Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Power Of Words

I have been involved with a Bible Study for the past two weeks entitled The Power of Faith-filled Words.  It has been very helpful for me in so many ways.  Faith-filled words are on my mind to write about, but today I want to talk about the impact of the words we speak to others.  Our words hold a lot of power.  We "speak life and death with our words". ( Proverbs 18:21)

Thinking about the power of words brought up something that happened several years ago.  I had sent an email to someone close to me expressing my feelings concerning a situation that came from a place of deep emotion.  It was not mean, but it was not nice or any of my business.  The response I got was immediate and filled with anger.  A long email let me know that they had never felt they had my approval.  They had "tried for years" to get my approval and never had.  The email went on to say some pretty hurtful things judging my character and the person I was.  I was stunned. It made me sick to my stomach.  I realized the close relationship I felt I had with this person was based on misconception.  What I thought was real was not perceived the same way by them.  I felt horrible that he/she never ever felt they had my approval.  How awful!

I share this because it is important to realize the power behind our words.  The words that were said in that email had a huge impact on me.  I cried for weeks grieving what was lost, and for years I was afraid to say anything that would be taken wrong. Sometimes I still am. I also had to forgive this person for hurting me, and I had to work through what was said...was there any truth in the words that described me so negatively? Was I the Renee that my loved one spoke about? Since I held my loved one in high regard, it was a long process for me and very important.

The fact that this person did not feel they ever had my approval spoke volumes.  Were my words conveying what I really thought or felt?   Were my words and actions hurting others?  Yes, they were. Not only did my words hurt someone I care about, they had severe consequences for me.  I did apologize, and I have spent a lot of time praying for healing in this relationship. I also pray for God to remove any critical spirit within me as only He can do.  God will work all things out for good as He always does.

Yes, there is great power in our words.  And we cannot take them back.  They can be damaging and destruction or they can be helpful and encouraging....building others up.  Sometimes we do need to speak truth to others, but it needs to be done in love and as directed by God.  God gives us guidance in His Word for how we should speak to or about others.  We do have a choice.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:29  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.

Lest I leave you with only the negative impact of our words,  let us not forget the positive impact our words can have on others.   We can build up, encourage, and show love through our words.  All of us know what it feels like to be told "I love you".... "Great job"...."I forgive you".  We all have stories that bring to mind memories of how the words of others encouraged and shaped us.

There is power in our words!

"May the words of my mouth
 and the meditation of my heart
 be acceptable in Your sight 
Oh Lord,
 my rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Clearing Out The Dust Bunnies

Welcome friends!  It is good to have you back at my "kitchen table" for a visit.  I have been absent from my cyber home here for two weeks, and everything has been shut down and closed up while I was on a a vacation of sorts.  I now feel the need to clear out the dust bunnies, open the windows to let in some fresh air, and dig out the vinegar and water to make everything sparkle once again.

Just like my cyber home, I too have been shut down and closed up while going through a time of reflection, growth, and renewal.  Spending nearly two weeks in my recliner from a nasty relapse with the Lyme gave me the opportunity to study God's Word intensely and have some long talks with Him about a variety of things.  I did a lot of talking, some crying, and some venting, but God is patient and when I would finally came to a place of being still, He talked and I listened.  He blessed me and I rejoiced.  He opened my heart and my spirit and I was restored and renewed.

It was a wonderful time of studying and still is.  And what have I been studying?  The Holy Spirit mostly. A number of books have been read, scriptures have been poured over, and my husband and I have been listening and watching evangelists speak online and on TV as God has enlightened us, blessed us, and helped us to grow.  Even in our 60's there is sooooo much to learn and now it seems.....soooooo little time!

Today one phrase keeps blessing my heart as it replays in my head.

"The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you!"

It's nice to be back.

Monday, February 13, 2012

MBM: Prayed Together!

Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity started Memorial Box Mondays to help remind us of God's love and faithfulness. The stories written share those times in our lives where we have experienced God creating miracles, blessings, and provision just when we needed it. Even though she is not linking up MBM today, with Valentine's Day tomorrow, I am re-posting the story of how God brought my husband Joel and I together through the prayers of others.

When I was eighteen I left home to attend Bible college. The Lutheran Bible Institute, later known as Golden Valley Lutheran College, was a small 2 year college with around 250 students attending. It was nestled down in a valley of a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. The students came mostly from the Midwest and I was no different. It was a great atmosphere to live in and I enjoyed my two years there very much as we studied the Bible and grew in our faith.

On parents weekend, during my first semester, my older sister, who helped raise me, and her good friend came for a visit. They looked over the campus while I was studying,  and then met me on the second floor of the commons building, near the chapel after their campus tour.  We visited for a short while before they announced that they had "found the guy I was going to marry".

I was more than a bit stunned, but listened quietly as they went on about how nice the young man was that they had met, and that he wanted to be a missionary in Africa just like his cousin David Simonson. They told me that they could "just see us married, living in Africa and working for God as missionaries".  Of course, I had been thinking about mission work for years as they already knew, but I was not so sure about them picking out my husband! I finally asked who this guy was and just when they were going to tell me, my sister said, "Oh, there he is! He just walked in the door!!"

I had already met Joel and my first impression of him had not been very good, so when I looked down to see who it was I was shocked, and said in a loud voice, "You have got to be kidding! He is loud, obnoxious, AND he wears BOOTS! (I was a city girl and he was a country boy after all...). My sister and her friend just smiled, and said, "We will pray about it."

Six months later we started dating and just 18 months from the day of our first day we were married with my sister's friend singing The Lord's Prayer at our wedding service! We have been married 43 years now and Joel still wears his cowboy boots. No matter where we have lived ~ in the West, Midwest, or across the ocean in The Philippine Islands~ whether he is at home, in the pulpit, or performing a wedding ceremony~ his boots are on his feet or nearby. I have come to love those boots along with his western hat, jeans, and denim shirts. And I would much rather be a country girl that a city girl any day.  I have come to know how very blessed I am to have this man in my life.

When people ask how we met, we love to say we were prayed together, AND those who are prayed together stay together! God had a plan for our lives that including marriage vows that brought us together for quite an adventure in faithful living. Because of that plan, and of course my sweet Joel, cowboy boots will always hold a special place in my heart.

I am looking for a miniature pair of cowboy boots to put in my Memorial Box to remind us of of God's goodness in our lives. I often say, I know God loves me because he brought Joel into my life. I just had to share this story today ~ I hope God blesses you with it in some small way.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It Matters When We Pray

Just a week ago we were praying for a man called "Big Dave" by his friends.  He had been shot and robbed in Haiti while working on a project to build an orphanage. He had taken himself to the hospital he helped build, where he had two surgeries before he was medivaced to Miami for further surgery.  People from around the world were storming the heavens for this man of God and his family, yet big Dave died even with good medical care and the hard fight by his body to survive. 

When I googled this incident to gather information for our prayer group, I saw that another young missionary was shot in Haiti that same week.  He also had two surgeries in Haiti before being medivaced to Miami, but he is at home now recovering.  Their circumstances were so parallel, yet one lived and the other died.

At first I found myself pondering the senselessness of these acts.  And then I turned to the questions.  Why, with thousands around the world praying for Big Dave, did he die?  Why did the young man with the same injuries and circumstances as Dave, live? 

There are many schools of thought on prayer and how God responds to our petitions to Him.  I am not going to go into them here, but I am going to share what my husband Joel and I believe.  Those beliefs have changed over the years...including the past few months.  God is always teaching us. 

I don't begin to understand why some prayers are answered one way and others are answered another.  I would not want to presume I know anything about the mysteries of God.  I cannot contain my God in a box of my own making.   I would not ever tell anyone it was God's will for their loved one to suffer or to die.  I do not believe that God sits in the Heavens and decides each day who will be healed and who will not.  He desires His best for all His children.  He desires healing for all His children the same way He desires salvation for all His children.  This is what I believe today.

We do live in a broken world where suffering happens, and disease strikes.  We do live in a broken world where broken people do bad things to good people....and good people die.  Even when thousands of people from around the world are praying for healing...for a miracle.....good people still die.  I do not know why, I just try hard to trust God and focus on what I DO know.

I know that our God is sovereign.  I know God  loves ALL His children.  God hears our prayers.  God weeps when we weep. He rejoices when we rejoice.  The Bible tells us we are never alone.  He was with Big Dave when he was shot and when He died. This I know.  There are mysteries of God we will not understand, but His love and forgiveness we DO understand.

We can rely on His Word.  God has a plan for our lives, a plan for good and not for evil.  He wants us to pray.  In fact the Bible says to "pray without ceasing".  So in obedience we pray.  We pray believing our prayers matter.  When Big Dave's wife wrote on Carebridge to share that he had died, she also pleaded with people to not stop praying. She said there is great power in prayer.  And she is right.  She also shared that if anyone reading her words did not know Jesus as their personal Savior, that this was the day they should ask Him into their hearts. 

Yes, it matters if we pray.  Personally, I have seen healings take place when others pray.  Our prayer group rejoices often with praises to our Lord for the many answers to prayers we see.  This is where I try to keep my focus, while leaving the rest up to God.  It matters.  Even with the mysteries that surround our prayers at times, they DO matter.

It matters when we pray.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Memorial Box Monday: Always Enough Part 2

Memorial Box Mondays posts started with Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. I am linked up with her blog post today, so stop over there and read other stories of God's faithfulness to His people.  Today I am sharing the rest of our story as a testimony of how God always provides!

As I sit writing this post, I can hear our new washer in the basement quietly spinning out the rinse cycle.  Sitting right next to the washer is a matching dryer that we were not sure we would be able to purchase.  God had other plans.

I wrote a Memorial Box Monday post a couple of weeks ago about our washer needing to be replaced, and how a gift of money we had given someone a couple of years ago was returned to us "with interest" just after Christmas.    We were going to put it towards our medical when the washer took a turn for the worse, so we began to search for the right washer for us.  We were also thinking and praying about a dryer too..ours had been purchased 22 yrs ago used from an estate auction.  A matching set was on my agenda!

We went to Sears to check out what they had, and we could buy a nice washer and a cheaper dryer that did not match,  and most likely be able to cover the cost, but we went home to look up ratings first.  While doing so we saw a different brand, an LG that had 5 star ratings for both the washer and the dryer...we called Sears and they said they would have to order them as they did not have any in stock.  It would take us out of our budget and we would have to go into our emergency fund to buy both but we were still considering it.  I googled the LG and found out our Best Buy store here in town carried them so off Joel went to check them out.  They were on sale quite a bit, and while looking at them Joel saw a washer that had a ding at the bottom side near the back.  They told Joel they wanted a certain price for the washer, he called me and I suggested he offer them a lower price which he did.  The guy went and talked to his boss and we were able to buy the washer for $520 LESS than the original price and  $240 less than the sale price. AND because the washer is energy star rated, we will get back $100 from our electric company.  It made it possible for us to buy the dryer too!  Anazing!  Only God!!

They are home, installed, and working well.  We are giving thanks for how God provided us with just what we needed and for the right price.  We were able to use the gift of money "with interest" and add just a little more cash and purchase the set!

God is faithful and loves to bless His children.  We love when He provides a story to go with the blessings so that we can give HIM the glory!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Just Praise Me"

So glad you came by....pull up a chair!  I have been sharing with you the many times God has been encouraging and guiding me to praise Him over the span of several months.  When I felt led to study the word obedience this year, praising God seemed to be filed under that catagory too.  Recently I began to study the places in the Bible that speaks of "the sacrifice of praise".  I am still pondering this and all that it means, but I have put it into practice this past week when I went through a needle breast biopsy.  As a cancer survivor, the words "rule out cancer" from the doctor brought more than a little anxiety into my life.  Truth be told I was left with a fearful heart as Isaiah speaks about in Chapter 35. 

When I told my friend what was going on, she spent time praying for me and felt led to tell me that she had received what she felt were a few "words from God".  One sentence that jumped out at me was....."Just praise Me."  She had no idea that I had felt God telling me to praise Him for the past few months.  She had no clue that I had been given written words from others that just "happened" to speak about praising Him and the sacrifice of praise.  Those words "just praise me" began to melt my fearful heart.

I really felt more like pleading with God instead of praising Him, but I began to praise Him every time I started to worry, or think about the "what ifs".  As the days went by until the biopsy, also during the procedure and in the day following as we waited for the results, which were benign, God kept reminding me of how much He loves me and that I am not alone.  Not ever.  As I praised Him, my focus changed.  It was a struggle, but I believe that each time I praise our loving Lord, I come closer in my relationship with Him and peace and joy wash over me. God is amazing!   I am a work in progress, but now I have taken what I have known in my head and applied it to my inner most being, and I have experienced in this area of my life, God releasing His power that resides inside of me, melting my fearful heart.  What a difference that made for me this past week!

Isn't it wonderful the way God has made us~ Isn't it wonderful how much He loves us ~ He even provides the tools we need on our journey through life.  His precious love and the love of others, the written Word, intercessory prayer, and the gift of praising Him. 

Just praise me.  These words are forever tucked away in my heart. My heart that today is listening to the words in Isaiah 35: 4
"Say to those with fearful hearts,
Be strong and do not fear
For your God is coming to destroy your enemies 
He is coming to save you."

Linking up to:

Stop over and read inspirational posts thanks to Joan and to Charlotte.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On Our Way Rejoicing

I am so glad you stopped by to chat.  Let me tell you, the past week has been a roller coaster ride with good news, not so good new, more good news, and then a possibility of not such good news and then today.....GREAT NEWS!  My breast biopsies all came back cancer.

I have looked back over the past week at how God has been blessing me every step of the way.  It never ceases to amaze me how much He loves and cares for each of us and how He works things out for good. 

Last Wed. I had my yearly mammogram, which I never skip due to having had uterine cancer two years ago and with my mom and sister having had breast cancer and my other sister cervical cancer.  (They all survived their cancers.)  It keeps me on my toes and, I confess, more than a bit apprehensive.  I was called back in for a second mammogram  to be magnified....and then told I would need a needle biopsy of an area that now looked mildly suspicious.  Not words we like to hear.  I remember having the same type of biopsy 4 years ago and the doctor was so nice, so I asked if I could request him to do this procedure too.  With my "special health needs" ( reactions to so many meds, chemicals, etc.) they were willing to comply.  The nurses were kind, caring and gentle.  The doctor was very very good at what he does and after nearly 2,000 procedures over the years, he knows what he is doing.  Again, it was all worked out by God.  The procedure should have taken 1 1/2 to 2 hrs and took only 1 hr 5 minutes.  We had  prayed for it to go quickly and well.  The woman who would be calling me with the results we knew from when her daughter and ours were friends in grade school.  Yet, another blessing.

I was quite anxious about all this and trying so hard not to be.  Joel shared with me his insights and when he laid hands on me and prayed for me....I felt a deep joy inside that it was all going to be okay.  My friend Linny also shared with me some "words from God" she received while praying which while she had no idea they were of any importance, let me know that God was with me.  God was still telling me to praise Him through it all.  As I began to do so, praising Him and praying for others, the fears subsided quite a bit.  Guess God knew what He was talking about!

So I had good news today~ I know that not everyone gets good news.  I have been in that place too where the word I received was "malignant".....but not today.  I had told myself that no matter what the day brought, I would keep praising God.  Praising God for my countless blssings, many prayer warriors, and God's goodness which cannot be measured. 

Today, I am giving thanks to God for walking me through this one week of unknowns.  It could be so much worse. Believe me I know that.  I think today I need to pray for those who did not get good news.  Those who are fighting for their lives, those who mourn instead of rejoice.  I will remember them as I am on my way rejoicing.