Thursday, August 30, 2012

Speaking Out Boldly

Go out into the world and fear nothing!

 A few weeks ago I read the above quote in the Daily Guidepost and I shared it here.  It is actually a blessing that Pastor David  Kidd says over his congregation at the end of each service.  It became the church's motto.  As soon as I read it, I stored it in my heart as a reminder for when any kind of fear or caution comes knocking on my door.

My husband does not need a reminder to "fear nothing". He is one who goes out into the world in obedience to God no matter what the cost. Last January he was healed overnight. I wrote about that HERE  , so I will share a shorter version. We had watched a Biblical teacher, Andrew Wommack, whom a friend recommended.   He was speaking on "God Wants You Well". As Christians we certainly knew that God healed people, but this was a new way of us looking at healing and also the gift of a prayer language. When we went to bed that night I asked Joel what he thought of this way of praying for healing and if he ever wanted the gift of speaking in tongues.

His reply was, "I don't know about this, I need to process it. And I am not sure what I would do with the gift of speaking in tongues." As he climbed into bed he decided to pray for healing remembering what Andrew Wommack had shared, and then he fell asleep. He woke up at 4am and knew he was healed. He said, "I am healed. And I can speak in tongues too!" At which time he did. He believes that he was given the gift of a prayer language as confirmation of his healing. We were amazing, humbled, and thankful. A month later I, too, received the gift of speaking in tongues. We also began seeing results to our prayers for my own healing, although mine has been a much slower process.

So there we were, an ELCA Lutheran pastor of 32 years and his wife, standing on Isaiah 53:5...."By HIS stripes we are healed".  Believing God wants us well.   And there we were speaking in tongues, using a personal prayer language to communicate with God spirit to spirit. We kept this to ourselves for a while. It was so new, so exciting, so a.m.a.z.i.n.g. After about a month we shared it with our children. Then Joel shared it with his colleague group, and then a few friends. He discovered there were other Lutheran pastors who had the gift of speaking in tongues but they had kept it to themselves. 

We read and continue to read as much as we can on both subjects, we spent a great deal of time watching Biblical teachings from several difference sources, and we continue to study God's Word on healing and the gifts of the spirit.

Eventually Joel felt strongly that God wanted him to speak out on his testimony...the healing, speaking in tongues, the healing available for others, ALL of it....and to God be the glory.   He has had a variety of questions and reactions  from family, friends, or congregational members. He is also praying with people for healing more than ever before because God has instructed him to do so. He is stepping out boldly into the world and fearing nothing, no matter the cost.

I have been more cautious to share some of our journey publicly.  What would people think of us speaking in tongues or speaking of the same power that raised Jesus from the dead being within us to heal?  What would people think if I declare that I believe that I am healed, but am still having symptoms and limited it what I do?!  I was worried, but in obedience today I share "the rest of the story".  

For two crusty old Lutherans on the down hill slide to 70, life has been turned upside down this year!  We are now on a whole new path of God's choosing, and at times we are in uncharted but exciting territory!   It may be a bumpy ride, but God is with us, and we are holding on tight.  We need fear nothing, and that includes speaking out boldly about our own journey.

"(Pray)....that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak."
words from
Ephesians 6:18-20

Monday, August 27, 2012

MBM: Wherever You Go

Memorial Box Monday was created by Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity.  You can stop over at her cyber home and read the full story behind it, but in general what we share is to show God's faithfulness and provisions, encourage others and help us remember how much God loves us!  Today I am sharing an edited version of a story I shared a few weeks ago.

"I speak to you continually : through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures.
 There is no limit to the ways I can communicate with you."
 Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

 One of the ways I know God is trying to get my attention is when I receive the same message from more than one source. It may be through the scriptures, a devotional, an email, nature, or the words of others. When I feel God is speaking to me I look for confirmation two or three times, to make sure it is a Word of Knowledge and not a word from Renee!  

Last week I went to a family reunion at one of our children's homes about a six hour drive from here. For most people that is not a big deal, but for me it was huge. Major. You see, I had been very ill for several years with Lyme and coinfections, and CFS and my reactions to chemicals, gas, etc. was so strong that I seldom left home except to go to the doctor. Traveling that far was major, going into someones house was major, being exposed to the fragrances of 37 people was major. Having the strength and energy to make this trip? Major! I had not been gone overnight from my home only once in 8 years and that was for cancer surgery. I had not traveled that far in 10 years, and I had not been back in this area for 16 years. This was big.

But the Lyme bacteria and its buddies were dead now, and I have been improving and healing and I wanted to go on this trip. We made plans, stepping out in faith. I told my sister Jan a few days beforehand,  "I am stepping out in faith and going!" Immediately I felt overwhelmed with fear. What if?????? What if????? I asked my hubby Joel to pray and I did the same. We were both a bit apprehensive.

 God, speak to us! 
 We need to KNOW if this is YOUR will. 

Not long after I opened my email and read a devotional by Rick spoke about STEPPING OUT IN FAITH, the same words I had spoken to my sister. As I read on Rick spoke about Joshua and I remembered that I had read Joshua 1:9 three times that week as it came up in devotionals and online.

 "This is my command, Do not be afraid or discouraged,
 for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9 

 I immediately felt the fear leave and an excitement take it's place. I knew I was to go. Joel told me later that while he was meditating he heard in his heart these words,

"She needs to go. I will be her place of safety."

That brought to mind a verse that I hold close to my heart:

"I will lie down and sleep without anxiety,
for You alone, Oh Lord, will be my place of safety."
Proverbs 4:8

So, I went. I had a great time! I did better than everyone expected and we both have many memories to cherish forever from those days.  In obedience I listened to God and let Him be my place of safety.  And He was!  Stepping out in faith can look so scary, but God is faithful and He provides just what we need.  Always remember, God will be our place of safety. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Child, Pay Attention To What I Say

I was reading an article by Reba McEntire in the new Guideposts Magazine a couple of days ago, where she shared the key to her life.......listening!  Especially listening to GOD.  She used to see her grandmother on her knees when she was a child, and ask her what she was doing.  Her grandma's reply, "Talking to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is talking to Jesus for me.".  " How do you know what He is saying?" Reba would ask.  Her reply---"I listen really hard to what God wants me to do.  That's the most important part of praying."  Reba has always followed the same advice.  She does not make any decisions without praying AND listening.  If people ask her what she is going to do next, she says, "I don't know because God has not told me yet!"

This story had me pondering our own lives. The times that Joel and I made big decisions without following this process stand out clearly in my mind.  Ironically, several of those center around moving!  I am sure there are a number of other decisions that we plowed ahead with throughout our lives too, without taking the time to listen to God.  Sometimes there were lessons to be learned in our choices, and sometimes God closed doors or gently guided us back onto the right path.  Often we ended up on the wrong path when we were too impatient to wait for guidance.  Then there were those times we just thought we "knew" what God was thinking.  He must get tired of that!

God was speaking to me with this story.  It came the day before I would need it!  He wanted me to listen.  Not just to Him but to those I love and care about.  Like so often in my life, He knew what I would need before I did.

The Bible is full of promises, commands, and words of love that God wants us to listen to.  Here is one of my favorite passages lately.

"My child, pay attention to what I say. 
Listen carefully to my words. 
 Don't lose sight of them.   
 Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they are life to those who hear them
and healing for their whole body." 
Proverbs 4:20-23

I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Conversations In The Garden: Overcoming

Spending time with Jesus in the garden of my heart continues to be very healing, and writing about these adventures is an important part of my journey.  Once again this week my time with Jesus turned to the childhood abuse.  Evidently, there was more I needed to hear.

Jesus and I walked up the path until we came to the large boulder.  The boulder still had the crack from top to bottom with a stream running through it that continued down the hillside to the garden meadow below.  I noticed that the stream was wider now. There were flowers growing on either side and around the boulder, making it look like a different place than before.  This time there was a way around the big rock, and I actually walked to the back of it where I was able to easily climb up on top.  From there I had a beautiful view and spent some time looking around.  In some strange way I felt comfortable there, and then Jesus asked me an important question.  " Are you going to stay up there?" 

I looked around and thought about this new indentity. I had not only survived years of Lyme Disease, CFS, and MCS, but I had survived cancer.  Now I was a survivor of sexual abuse. I was good at surviving, but was being a survivor enough?

I looked at Jesus and replied "no" to his question.  I did not want to stay there.  I took His hand and jumped down, ready to move forward.  For so many years I only saw myself as a person with a dibilitating illness, and it was a heavy burden that I carried around.  I did not want to think of myself anymore as a survivor, but as an overcomer.  With God's help that is what I would be.

Sometimes we get comfortable where we are at because we have been there so long, and change is hard.  At least the place we find ourselves is familiar, and fear can hold us captive to what we know.  But God loves us too much to leave us in the midst of our circumstances.  He wants us to continue to grow to be more Christ-like,, and that often means embracing change.  It most definitely means trusting God as we take a step of faith into the unknown.  It is not always easy, as the only way out is through, but we are never alone.  Never.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Conversations In The Garden: Living Water

"Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare,
'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'"
John 7:38 (NIV)

As many of you know, I enjoy going into the garden of my heart to have conversations with Jesus. I find a quiet place, pray for the Holy Spirit to calm my mind, control my thoughts and let me hear only the voice of our Lord.  I have been delightfully amazed with what I learn during these times I visualize visiting with Jesus.

About a week ago I shared how I had gone into the garden and when Jesus and I went walking on a path up the mountainside, there was a huge boulder on the path that made it impossible to go around, over, or under! I knew immediately that it was the childhood abuse I was dealing with. After speaking out on this difficult truth here, and sharing my story with family and loved ones, the boulder had a split from top to bottom the next time I went into the garden!  I still could not get through it, but I knew it was only a matter of time.

This week when I was back on the path with Jesus we came upon the boulder. I peered into the large crack and saw a stream on the other side. As I watched, it came trickling down the path,then through the crack making its way down the mountain. My first thought was "living water". Living water was making its way through the boulder.....through the abuse. Jesus was healing me with a stream of living water!

Without thinking I still asked  Jesus what else I needed to do so I could get past the boulder.  Did I need more memories to surface?  Did I need to continue homeopathy?  More counseling?  He took my hand and began to lead me over to a path that had been hidden by the trees.  As we climbed up this path I glanced over to my left and saw the boulder below me.  My thought was,  "It does not seem so big from here." I then realized that Jesus,  JESUS was leading me past the boulder--the abuse.  Jesus was holding my hand and every time we prayed for the healing of memories, He was healing me with living water, cleansing me and moving me forward past the big boulder blocking my way.

When I wrote about the abuse for the first time I shared that people may have wondered where God was when I was being hurt.  I shared that I believed "He was right there holding my hand".   I am so grateful He reminded me that He STILL is!

No matter what life brings our way, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves facing today, we are never alone.  God is always with us, He keeps a firm grip on us and He desires to heal us with His living water!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mind Renewal

"Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life."
Proverbs 23:7

I was thinking about the purging of old meds, herbs, and supplements that I accomplished a couple of days ago, and how I carried that over into purging my heart of unwanted "stuff" too.  Spending time pondering this process, I soon realized  that I needed to include a good cleansing of my mind, too.

Truth be told, this is a difficult process.  It is not easy to get rid of the old tapes we play over and over ~ the ones that discourage us more than encourage us!! And what about how we talk to ourselves?  Would we ever say to others what we so easily declare over ourselves?  It is also easy to fill up our minds with garbage.  The  "garbage" we watch.  The TV ads alone are enough to depress a person!

Last week during pastor Rick Warren's sermon, he talked about how important our thoughts are.  They help shape our identity.  Warren reminded us that " We don't have to believe everything we think.". He went on to say, "We can choose what we think about.". The most important way we change how we think is with the Word of God.  We put the truth of Gods Word in us every time we open our Bible.  The scriptures help us renew our minds.

Cleansing and renewing the mind is a daily process, but not impossible.  After all, God supplied us with just what we need!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Purging "Stuff"

On my other blog that speaks of my healing journey, I wrote about purging our cupboards of all the medications, supplements, and herbs that Joel and I took for years in the attempt to rid our bodies of Lyme Disease.  With the power of prayer, we both are now free of Lyme.  Joel is doing extremely well, and I am doing much better but not "there" quite yet. In time!

As I thought how great it made me feel to get rid of all that stuff, my mind went to all the other things I might be holding on to---"stuff" that no longer or never did serve any purpose.

Maybe there is a resentment I think is justified......or a fear that continues to control me.  Maybe there is a hidden sin I need to repent of, or a festering hurt that is taking up valuable space and is depleting my energy.  Maybe, just maybe, it is time once again to go through the cupboards of my heart and do a little purging.

 When I purged our cupboards of all those bottles and jars, I felt empowered.  The more I dumped in the garbage the stronger my sense of freedom.  I know that would apply to all the stuff I need to dump from my heart, too.  In His infinite wisdom God has instructed us to forgive, love, and confess.

Yesterday I purged the bottles and praised God that the season for those treatments
 has passed.  Today I am going to start purging all the junk in my heart and praise God for filling those now empty places with His healing love.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Conversations In The Garden: The Boulder

I love going into the Garden of my heart with Jesus.  It is there that I pray for the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts and let me hear only the voices of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they guide and direct me.  In this special place I see trees, lilac bushes, a garden bench, a vineyard and more, and in the near distance a cliff and path up a mountain side.  There have been smells that sometimes fill my nose, and I can hear birds and the wind blowing in the trees.  I never know what will come when I visualize, but I do know that God speaks to me in there. 

As most of you know who visit here, I recently spoke out about the childhood sexual abuse I experienced.  It had been hidden even from my conscious self for nearly 58 years before it came to the surface.  God had been gently guiding me to write about it for several weeks and I found myself putting off finishing the article due to the emotions that came with it,  and I had not decided when or if to post it. Telling family members had been difficult and expanding that listening audience seemed even more challenging.

One morning when I went into the garden to visit with Jesus, I found myself walking up a steep path with Him.  We were climbing together when suddenly I saw a huge boulder blocking the path.  There was no way around it, over it, or under it.  I immediately knew what it was.  it was the abuse~ blocking my way to healing.  I wanted to just sit down at the foot of the boulder, but I knew that the only way out of what I was experiencing was to go through it and the only way through it was to speak out about it, taking away some of the hold it had on the deep inner places inside of me.

I knew Jesus was telling me it was time. And I also knew I was not alone on this journey.  He was with me, as always.  I made the decision, set the date, and felt sure of God's leading. I finished the article and posted it.

Recently when I went back into the garden Jesus and I were climbing the same path.  As we came to the boulder blocking the way I noticed there was a huge crack in it from top to bottom.  It was not big enough for me to get through yet, so I asked Jesus what more I needed to do to remove this boulder from my path to healing.  He said, "Accept the memories and release them......forgive."  As I prayed for strength to forgive the person who had caused me so much pain, the crack in the boulder expanded even further.  Still there, but slowly being split apart, eventually to crumble!  I know it is just a matter of time.

It is of great comfort to know we are not alone as we walk through this life.  We all have big boulders that block our paths at times.  Jesus not only keeps a firm grip on us during these times, but He guides us through them, one step at a time.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge Him
 and He will make your paths straight.
Indeed, do not rely on your own wisdom
Trust the Lord and stay away from evil
Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones."
Proverbs 3: 5=8

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Earth Laughs

"The earth laughs in flowers"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This lovely flower graces our porch with its beauty.
I love the vivid colors.

May you find joy in the vibrant color it shares,
a smile on your face and praise on your lips~
For God really outdid Himself with this one!

I am linking up with Gayle over at Behind The Gate ~ Lavish Simplicity

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fear Nothing

"For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

I was reading the Daily Guidepost devotional the other morning and came across a great blessing Pastor David Kidd has used for years in his congregation in North Carolina.   At the end of the service he would say, "Go out into the world, and fear nothing."  His wife Pam said the church even had bumper stickers made with this blessing. It became the church motto.

"Go out into the world, and fear nothing."

This is what God asks of us, His followers.  We are to have the courage to go out into the world, sharing the Gospel with others. We are to love and forgive others. We are to be obedient to what God has called us to do~ His purpose for our lives.  And we are to fear nothing.  Imagine being in that place. Oh, what we could accomplish if we feared nothing!

God has so many plans for our lives, and I confess their are times I let fear get in the way of doing what he asks.  I don't like being out of my comfort zone.  What if he asks us to change our plans and replace them with His?  What if doing what God asks means surrendering our will for His will only?  What if being obedient means going out into the world and fearing nothing?

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it"
Luke 11:28
Recently I felt God leading me to speak out about a childhood trauma I experienced, Voicing A Difficult Truth.  At first I felt anxious, but as time went by I realized God had my best interests at heart.  And not only mine, but those who would read my story.  God's way and timing are always perfect, just like His love for us, and I eventually came to a place of peace, stepping out of the boat, and going "out into the world and fearing nothing."  (Mostly, anyway!)

The most amazing thing about being obedient to God is that it unlocks His power within us!  It fills us to overflowing and reaches into our hidden places filling them with light.  It empowers us to be who God calls us to be.  I only pray I remember that the next time I find myself hiding from the world, the next time I hesitate when God says,

"Go out into the world, and fear nothing!

I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays