Being Set Free

I watched an animated short film on youtube this week titled Overcomer by Hannah Spangler. As I watched the video, I thought about how well it illustrates what Jesus can do in our loves.

The video shows a young woman being overwhelmed by chains that keep being put on her. As I watched it, I thought about chains that can come upon us such as family problems, harmful things spoken over us and to us, doubt, despair, confusion, and being bullied. This life can be harsh and cruel for some people. It can lead us to depression, anxiety, loss of hope, loneliness, and wanting to give up.

The good news is the truth of what Jesus said in John 16:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus also said in John 8:

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Jesus is the truth and he only speaks the truth. He is the one who says- God loves you.

The truth is that we are loved. Jesus showed us the love of the father and his own love when he died on the cross for us.

The truth is that God cherishes us as his children. When we come to Jesus, we become God’s children.

The truth is that God wants all people to be free from the chains of this life and to live in the freedom of his love.

The truth is that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Dear reader please remember today how much God loves you. He is with you today. With Jesus we can be free from the chains and come into the light of his love.

Thank you for reading and please watch Hanna’s video. As you watch at the end, think about being free in Jesus. God Bless 🙂

 

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When God Lets Us Know He Is There

Yesterday was one of those days filled with small blessings. It was the kind of day that in little ways God lets us know he is there. A day that reminded me of a book I have read, ‘When God Winks At You by Squire Bushnell. Godwinks are what he calls little things that happen that may seem like coincidence but are actually God letting you know he is with you.

“The silent little miracles are godwinks-messages of assurance that no matter what is happening in your life or how uncertain things may seem at the moment, God is with you and will help you move toward certainty”

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A wink from a parent can reassure their child, express love to their child, and simply let their child know they are beside them. God expresses those things to us in many small ways.

I met with a young woman from Iran to edit a paper for her. She is working on her Phd in nutrition. I spontaneously asked her to teach me how to say ‘how are you my little sister’ in Farsi which is the language of Iran. She helped me practice and I sent a voice message on facebook to a friend saying, how are you my little sister, in Farsi. My friend is the one who invited me to the party last weekend.

Yesterday I went back to the gym for the first time in a few months to walk in the aqua track. Before I went, I prayed and asked God to use me to encourage someone. The aqua track is used mostly by people recovering from an injury or by older people. It is also used for Physical Therapy. Yesterday an older woman came for her first physical therapy appointment. My guess is that she is in her late 70s. I heard the therapist call her sister repeatedly, so I figured out she is a nun. She seemed to be struggling along walking around the track, so I one time when came by her I said, “Jesus is with you step by step in here.” She smiled.

In the evening, I taught my Level 7 class. One student brought me food from her country called briyani. I love briyani. It is a dish made of rice, chicken, almond slices, and veggies. During class a former student knocked on my door to give me a bag of various chocolates.

It was one of those days that it seemed God winked at me several times in many little ways and used me to wink at others.

Often we look for the “big” things from God, so we tend to overlook the “little” things he does in our lives. We miss the winks. So this post today is a way for me to thank God for the many little winks in my life whether expressed to me or to use me to wink at others.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Word Wednesday- Longing

What do we long for? Longing can evoke different images. A longing is a deep desire, but often we only think of it in regards to romantic involvements or things we desire. When we long for something, it consumes our thoughts. A longing can be pervasive on our minds. It can be riches, fame, relationships, the “good life”. We all have a void in our souls and spirits that sadly we try to fill with things or people.

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Have you ever longed for something but you aren’t sure what it is? Like it is some undefinable thing beyond our grasp?

A man named David once wrote about what he longed for in Psalm 63:

“O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.”

We are all longing for God whether we realize it or not, or whether we want to acknowledge it or not. God created us to have a relationship with him. He longs to have a relationship with us.  We thirst for God whether we admit it or not.

Think of the imagery of in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Have you ever been so thirsty that you could not wait for a drink of water? Maybe in the summer time on a hot day. I remember as a child how good it felt to drink cold water from the hose in my yard and to splash it over my head while playing outside in the heat. Do we thirst for God as if we are in a dry land with no water?

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Jesus spoke of the water he gives so that we won’t thirst anymore in John 4 while he was talking with a woman who came to a well:

“Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

He will freely give living water to anyone who comes to him. That water is the Holy Spirit. The living water fills the void we have deep in our souls and spirits. The living water satisfies the deep longing for what seemed out of our grasp.

For those of us who have come to know Jesus and have received living water, we still have times we need to be refreshed. Life happens and we can get bogged down. Disappointments come. Struggles can drag us down.

I would like to share the wonderful old song with you, As The Deer Pants For The Water. Dear reader please listen to it and let the Lord bless you. Thank you for reading and God Bless 🙂

 

Being With Jesus

Our lives get hectic. There are kids to take care of. There are work duties that need to be taken care of. In my life there are classes to teach, papers and tests to grade, lessons to plan, and ministry to tend to. We can get so focused on things we need to do that we might neglect our relationships with those in our lives. It is so important to take time to nurture those relationships whether they are family or friendships.

Martha and Mary were sisters who knew Jesus during his earthly ministry. Jesus came to visit one day. Martha was busy taking care of things in the house, but Mary sat at the feet of Jesus soaking in his teaching. Martha was busy with things, but Mary was simply being with Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t doing her part. She thought Mary was being lazy. Jesus replied:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

One thing is needed. What is that one thing? Being with Jesus. Being in his presence. He is the vine and we are the branches.

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There is a balance in scripture. Of course we need to tend to our lives. But when Jesus comes calling, we need to be in his presence. We need him. He doesn’t need us. We need him to be refreshed daily, sometimes hourly.

A famous verse in the bible is Revelation 3:20 when Jesus says:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

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That is commonly used to share faith with those who do not know Jesus, but it was written to a lukewarm church. The church of Laodicia had become lukewarm, They had lost their passion for Jesus. They had lost the desire to be in his presence. Jesus offered to come in and dine with them. In other words, he offered to come into their lives and be with them. Jesus comes knocking each day. He offers to spend time with us. The question is do we respond. Do we open the door for him and invite him in? Do we sit at his feet like Mary or do we let busyness get in the way?

If we sit at his feet, there are so many blessings. We can be refreshed. Understanding and guidance can be received. Answers can come. I love a line in the song So Will I. It is:

“And as you speak, a hundred billion failures disappear”

Dear readers please take time to be with Jesus and sit at his feet like Mary. Perhaps take time to listen to the song So Will I.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

New School Year = New Opportunities and Adventures

Yesterday I had an instructors meeting for the Family Literacy program I teach in. It was the usual go over paperwork and discuss issues related to the program. It was great to see my fellow instructors four of whom were my assistants in previous years. The meeting itself was nothing new for me since I have been to so many, but after the summer I have had, it represented something for me.

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I enjoy teaching my evening classes which started in July. They are higher level classes and many of my students in those classes will go on for education in our community college or university. What is distinct about my Family Literacy class is that it is comprised of moms with a lower level of English who are trying to learn English in hopes of helping their young children. My Family Literacy class will begin the first Tuesday in September.

Teaching the class gives me a very real sense of impacting whole families because 20 moms represent 20 families impacted. It goes beyond English as I get to know my students. Last year we helped one mom get in to see a specialist to get her heart checked, helped another mom to get help with her asthma, and supported a mom whose husband died during the school year.

When the class begins in September, I will have some returning students and meet some new ones. I always think of starting as representing new opportunities to impact students and their families and adventures as we learn together. So even though it is three weeks away, the thought of starting again helps me shake off the summer and look ahead.

That is one of the wonderful things about living for and following Jesus. There is always the opportunity to start fresh and anew. As it is written in Proverbs 24:

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again”

The context of that verse is about encountering difficult times whatever they may be and the fact that God is always there to help us get back up and get going again. I look forward to that with the start of a new school year.

Hope you have a good weekend my dear reader. Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂

God Shows Himself to Other Through Our Weaknesses

A comment I received yesterday from Lily of retrospectivelily.com caused me to reflect on something all day. Whatever difficulty we face, if we give it to God and depend on him, he can and will show himself to others through our weakness and how we live with it while depending on God. Lily’s comment was:

“You are so right that we ignore the “small miracles” that God works in our lives every day. Some of the small miracles for me are being able to get up when I fall down, still being able to drive to the gym to work out and maintain strength, and the Holy Spirit empowering me to exude joy that inspires able-bodied people. Reminds me also of someone’s status update from the other day–“Sometimes, God is so subtle, you look up and find yourself walking through a door you once prayed would open.”

A young woman with an autoimmune problem that results in her needing a wheelchair has the attitude that through her struggle able-bodied people can be inspired. Her attitude stayed with me all day yesterday. Her comment reminded me of what Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 12:

” But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul knew that in his weakness God showed himself to others. 

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The picture makes me think of how God reaches out to take our hand when we are in the midst of a struggle.

Whatever our struggle is whether it is a health issue, depression, addiction, financial problems, or family problems, if we give it to God and let him work in our lives, then day by day others will notice. They will notice things like our attitude like I did with Lily’s. They will see our calm in the midst of a storm. They will see us keep our joy in the midst of sorrow. No we won’t do it perfectly. No one does.

This is why I have been open about struggles I have. It isn’t to gain anything for myself. My hope is that by being open about struggles and how God has worked in my life, that others will be drawn to Jesus.

Once we identify ourselves as Christian the world begins to watch us. They look to see if we are genuine or not. They look to see if we are for real. Hopefully they see something distinct that grabs their attention. I am sure others see something distinct about Lily.

I want to encourage you my dear reader to give your struggle to God and be willing to let others see him work in your lives.

 

God’s Grace Working in Real Life

God has blessed me with being able to see him do wonderful things in the lives of many people such as the wedding I went to last weekend that I shared about. A young woman from Vietnam that others may have overlooked, God placed in my life to help. Over time she came to know Jesus, blossomed in life, and now is newly married with a promising career.

Sometimes I think we read the miracles recorded in the bible and only see those types of things as miracles, as God’s grace at work. Yet God is always at work in our lives doing things that seem implausible or not doable for us.

In my own life I have experienced that so many times in so many ways such as taking me from suffering memory loss, amnesia due to being sick, to being able to remember how to greet people in 30 languages.

I love real life stories of people who have overcome difficulty through God’s grace in their lives. One person is a vlogger on youtube that shares about her life experience to encourage others. Her name is Stephanie. She shares in one video about how she struggled with anxiety and panic attacks and how God helped her.

 

Her anxiety developed over the loss of babies while being pregnant, but she didn’t give up on her faith. She sought out God with her husband. Today she shared a video about God working a miracle in her life. I don’t want to give it away, so here is that video.

I love her videos because they are about her journey with God through difficulties. She shares with the hope of encouraging others. It makes me think about 2 Corinthians 1 where Paul writes about how God comforts us so we in turn can comfort others with the comfort we have experienced.

Stephanie also has a blog virtuouswomanblog.com  you can check out.

It is a blessing for me to read about God’s grace being sufficient for people going through struggles such as Lily who shares about her life living with an autoimmune problem that causes her to need a wheelchair. Her blog is retrospectivelily.com 

What is on my mind is that TV ministry people can make it seem like there has to be some major miracle for it to mean God is at work. Quite the contrary!! God is always at work in people’s lives. Whether it is giving us grace to live with a difficulty such as with Lily much like Paul when God said, “My grace is sufficient for you,” or helping us to overcome a struggle over time like he has done for Stephanie, God is always at work.

Let’s not wait until there is some monumental miracle to thank God and share with others what God has done. People are looking for real connection these days. By sharing our real life struggles and how God has worked in our lives, we can open up opportunities to attract people to Jesus.

I hope you take a little time out of your day to watch Stephanie’s two videos and to check out her blog and also Lily’s blog. If you do, you will be blessed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless 🙂

 

 

Word Wednesday- Promise

Broken promises by friends and family weaken our trust. Times in the past we felt something showed promise that did not come through lessen our hope and confidence. The word promise itself has lost meaning in our world.

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Past symbols of promise have lost meaning. The original symbol of promise was the rainbow that God created as a sign that he promised to never bring worldwide flood again in judgement. I remember as a child the cartoon commercials of a cereal that had a leprechaun and a rainbow. A handshake to close a deal is only good if the deal comes through.

A promise is only as good as the person behind the promise.

How many times have we been let down by leaders due to their lack of integrity? It has happened in sports, in politics on both sides, in the business world and sadly in the church too.

Jesus made promises:

He promised to never leave us in John 14.

He promised to return for us in John 14.

He promised Eternal Life in John 3.

Jesus made many  promises. The difference is that Jesus is no mere man. His character has never and will never change. Hebrews 13 says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. The context of the chapter is all about character. Jesus is someone we can trust.

Jesus has all power, so nothing can stop him from fulfilling his promises. Jesus said that all power has been given to him in heaven and on earth in Matthew 28.

Whatever our situation is, we can trust Jesus to come through for us because of his character and because he has the authority and power to back it up. So if we are seeking God’s help, let’s remember that God’s character never changes as it says in James 1:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

 

 

 

God’s Love Is Deeper

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still”

Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned by the Nazis because she and her father and sister hid Jews and helped them escape. Her father died in a prison camp. Corrie and her sister were in the same prison camp and Corrie’s sister died in that prison camp. Corrie experienced horrible living conditions in the camp, suffered abuse by the guards, and the death of her father and sister. How does anyone come back from that and not be scarred for life? It is out of that experience that Corrie shared, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

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I have never been in a situation as terrible as Corrie faced. The pits I have experienced have been health related and issues related to growing in a family that had an alcoholic father and  mentally ill mother. This summer I experienced a pit with health and a few other problems, but I can confirm Corrie’s observation. God’s love is truly deeper than any pit we can experience in life.

God often expresses his love for us through the actions of others. I have definitely experienced that this summer in small ways and big ways. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit we can also experience the presence of Jesus. For me that has often been having a song in my spirit that is a reassurance God is with me.

Dear readers please think about whatever difficulty you are facing and lift it up to Jesus. Let’s remember what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:

 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”

The reason we lift up our problems to him is because he cares for us. Let’s pause and let that soak in. God cares about us. No matter how small we may feel, God cares about us. No matter how insignificant we may feel, God cares about us. Even if the pit is so overwhelming that we can barely lift up a whisper of a prayer, God cares about us.

Whatever pit we are in, God cares about us and is fully able to help. Is the pit addiction? God’s love is deeper. Is the pit depression? God’s love is deeper. Is the pit memories of the past? God’s love is deeper. Is the pit a health crisis? God’s love is deeper? Is the pit family problems? God’s love is deeper.

Thank you for reading. God Bless 🙂

Music Mondays- I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe

The past several weeks and especially the past few weeks I have been blessed by so many friends. When we go through valleys, we can feel that we are alone even though Jesus promised he would never leave us. The valley can be so deep that one could lose hope.

It has been amazing for me to find out how many friends care. Living with autoimmune is nothing new for me. It has been part of my life for over 25 years. Experiencing set backs is nothing new for me either. But being on the receiving end of so much love being expressed is somewhat new for me.

In very tangible ways the Lord has been showing me that I am not alone. It is almost as if he was giving me time this summer just to be to regroup. I am in the first steps of leaving this valley of a summer with a new realization of the fact that I am not alone.

In the past I have not let my physical issues show partly due to not wanting to be slowed down and partly due to the time not being right. As for the time not being right, I mean in regards to people I have helped. The group of young people from Vietnam who have blessed me greatly recently are now adults, but when I was helping them my focus was on the fact that they needed me. It would not have been appropriate for me to tell them 10 years ago or five years ago that I have had pain everyday for over 25 years. They have achieved and grown so much that they no longer need me like they did in the past, so it felt okay to let them know what was going on.

By letting others know it opens the possibility of letting them in. By doing that it also lets Jesus work through others. We are never alone. Jesus is always with us, but he likes to work through others. Yes he can do it directly, but he chooses many times to work through others.

So I would like to share this song with you dear reader in hopes it encourages you to remember that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Jesus is with you.

Thanks for reading. God Bless.