Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Recital 2013

Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening. Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time. ~Kelsey Grammer

Do you see this child smiling as she plays?

Two years ago at the spring recital she froze because she could not remember how to place her hands to begin one the pieces that she was doing without reading the music in front of her.

The last spring recital I watched her work herself up into being nervous with that memory and because everyone else was nervous so she was being like them.

This time I again saw that part of her that I had known since she was four years old...the child who loves to perform and is not at all nervous. I was so glad to see the girl be her talented self, that little child without stage fright in a half grown body, that one child that stands out and steals the show because she looks like she enjoys entertaining the audience. You may think I am just bragging, but every year she has performed, people would tell us how they were impressed with her performance and not just her piano playing, but that certain showmanship that so pleases the crowd. After her performance on Saturday so many people came up to us to tell us well she performed, how poised she was, how confident she looked, how she seemed to enjoy playing the piano, etc. A few said she looked like an angel.


I could have told them how she changed her dress last minute and left her room looking like a tornado hit it—maybe she is the Bedroom Tornado Angel? Then there was how she had a fight with me about curling the ends of her hair—just the ends!—and was in tears as I did it when we were running so late that I was not sure we would make it for the beginning, even though she would not be playing until the second half and how I struggled with a waterfall braid she asked me to do (but would not allow me to curl) that I finally got in the car on the way there. I was far more stressed out that she was, but we did reconcile on the hour drive and all was forgotten.

This piano recital program was one of the shortest because so many children just could not attend due to schedule conflicts mostly in sports activities. I did the recital programs again this year, but it was challenging in different ways. First, the parents of one student came up with this idea to create a database for piano and dance recital programs asking Trudy, our piano teacher, if she would be willing to be a test case for this venture. This meant I would not have to type in the data, but as I found out it also meant that there would be far more formatting issues for me as the process produced full page programs and we use folded paper for a half page print out.

Perhaps because I was fasting and just could not get motivated to do the programs which means I did not design the covers earlier when I should have. There was also the challenge of  this odd problem created when my husband hooked up one older printer on the wireless network so that even though I put in 60 copies it would only print one—yes, I ended up pressing the printer button over 300 times that night! I finished at 3:00 AM Friday morning. Since there was no piano lesson on Thursday, my errand day was moved to Friday and so I did the day with four hours sleep to make rehearsal at 3:00 PM and hand over the programs.

Was it all worth it? Absolutely!

I know I am biased, but I ask you does this girl so play the piano that even her little mess-ups just seem...cute?

~ My Lord, thank you for this child's talent in answer to my prayer before she was born. Guide her to use it to honor and glorify You. ~

Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Beginnings

Surrender...sacrificing my life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed. ~Rick Warren

I just finished an eight day fast. Eight is considered the number of new beginnings. My soul is yearning for a new beginning within me. I do not wish to be asking the question "What would Jesus do?" but to be so filled by the Holy Spirit that my Lord's thoughts are my thoughts. I did not expect an instant change during my fast, but an intensifying pursuit of this life-long desire.

I learned some things during the fast and I noticed a little something that has changed in me, but it is only the beginning...or perhaps a continuation of my discipleship. Either way, I welcome it, my Lord.

Last Monday, after we had returned from Pigeon Forge, a woman from my former church had been on my mind all day. Actually, I have been thinking of her very often, wondering if I should go to her and pray for her knee. She had knee replacement surgery in November and all was going well until the knee cap shifted. Many things happened afterward, but at this time the knee cap has been removed and there has been a tenacious infection in the knee area for months. The next thing being considered is to remove all the artificial knee and place a spacer with antibiotics directly at the site. The woman, usually active, has been very depressed with the inability to go out much and now with the fear of losing her leg.

Monday afternoon, I talked with my husband saying I needed to see her that evening. We all went. I prayed over her knee. Now I personally prefer to pray silently, but this time I pray some aloud. I felt movement in her knee and she felt heat. The coloring improved around the edges of the reddened skin and some swelling decreased. She had no pain when pressing on the areas that had been so tender to touch before and she could even bend her knee more than before. She had a sore from which the infection was draining that was along the seam line and still open and she had another developing above it, but she told me a few days later that the second one was gone the following morning.

Instead of getting the confirmation from her infectious disease doctor that she had hoped to receive, the doctor scared this poor woman a few days later saying that the infection was going down farther in the leg and pressing about the urgent need for this surgery. Her lab work showed low numbers that suggested otherwise and later when she was examined by the surgeon, he said he thought it was looking much better and that the sore was smaller, so he wanted to wait another week to see it then. I love this woman so much, she is so open with her feelings and thoughts. She confessed that she did not doubt the prayer for healing but at the same time.... I confessed back that I often feel the same way when I pray for people to be healed, but that God loved her and I know He wanted me to go to her, all I did was obey.

I was getting this information from her as I was fasting which I began on my usual fasting day Wednesday. She asked me to continue to pray for her, but each time I went to the Lord, I felt He was telling me the infection was gone and although she is on my mind now and then, I no longer was feeling that spiritual nagging to do anything in particular.

As fasts go, this one was rougher emotionally during most of it, but I expected that. I did notice something very desirable though in the outcome. I have known a woman for about twelve years, but never really felt comfortable just talking with her. She is always in a hurry working as she is a manager and it seems we have little in common, but the truth is we really do not know each other well enough to know if we have things in common. From the first day I met her, I have always felt intimidated by her...for absolutely no rational reason. I do not wish to give details, but I realize just as I am writing this out that somehow I had given her authority over me in my mind—again this seems to be residual from past abuse. Anyway, I have always felt guarded and a bit anxious around her rather than open and comfortable, however yesterday when she began a conversation with me about fasting because she was just coming off of a juice fast, I was not guarded at all. I was relaxed and it was a very pleasant conversation. I was loving her, really loving her for the very first time in all these years, and I just wanted to bring her into His fold with me. It seems that my Lord has changed my heart and what better way to show me how much than this!

~ My Lord, thank you. I am beginning to understand how to be a woman after Your own heart.  ~

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Neighbors and Christianity

Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In September of 2009, our next door neighbors moved in as renters. (Perhaps renting to own, but we have not asked them. They were thinking about moving twice but have not mentioned it since.) I wrote about our first meeting in New Neighbors and Old Ones Returned and how she asserted that she was pro-choice within the first five minutes of our conversation as we talked about homeschooling. I did not ask what she believed then, but it is obvious her oldest, who is younger than my daughter, is an atheist. The mother used to say "hello" to us, but most of the time I saw her on the porch she was smoking and talking on the phone while her children were either inside or in the backyard on the trampoline.

Our husbands have conversed often, but the most the mother has ever talked to me since the first day we met was about a year ago when she was complaining about how much work she had to do to prepare for the party they were having...and then they had another party two weeks later! Actually, they have several parties every year that last long into the night and are not quiet. There is quite a bit of drinking and people and children spread out on the front porch and front lawn picnicking until they end. They used to have a burn barrel in the front yard all the time, but now they only use it when it is cold. In its place is a moveable grill that is never moved.

Most days it seemed as if their homeschooling was done well before noon. It was obvious to me, although she never said anything to me, that she was emotionally spent in the afternoons. Later her husband told mine that she was having increasing difficulty homeschooling all three. Part of it was arguing, which is the boy's nature, and the other part was them just not doing their work. Since the mother also had some major dental work to be done this year, they decided keep the oldest, the boy, at home using an online curriculum, probably the virtual public school program, and place the two girls in public school.

My daughter has continued playing with the boy and two much younger girls outside as we have not allowed her to play in their house. The boy often starts debates in favor of evolution and when you die you just "blink out", while my daughter voices her opinion on creationism and the afterlife. In the last year, it got to the point when they got started, the mother would give what my daughter called "the look" and more lately would have all the family go inside the house.

Quite recently, my daughter, out of her deep love and concern for the girls' souls, told them about what would happen when they die if they did not believe in Jesus. Ever since then they have not played with my daughter, although we see another Christian girl and boy in the neighbor playing over there quite often still. A couple weeks ago, it came out that the children next door were no longer allowed to play with my daughter.

This week, when she again asked, the mother said she could play with her children...as long as she did not talk about anything religious.

This is a very difficult time for us as her parents, because the Princess really likes the little girls, but she also really loves her Lord. After some prayer, we felt the Lord tell us to let her make this decision on her own and that we need to trust Him to guide her. Honestly, we cannot see her not talking about God, it is just who she is, so we are thinking that she will eventually be banned even if she does continue to play with them and that is what she said she will do. Yes, she had been praying about the situation.

There can be good and bad in this, I am just not sure which will win out in the end. This is the part that concerns me: She is willing to be banned from speaking about her beliefs in order that she can play with the girls. Will she later be willing to compromise her beliefs by marrying a husband who is not Christian?

I also noticed that the boy is not banned from playing violent video games or listening to loud and profane rap music, but then my daughter has been leaving on her own whenever that starts, so I am continuing to trust my Lord to guide her.

~ My Lord, please guide my daughter to please You in all she does. Also, my Lord, lead these people from out of the deception and darkness to Your Love and Light. ~

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Love In Training

See, I’m so free from me that I’m free from you. Cause you don’t determine my day. No matter how you treat me, doesn’t matter. Cause I will hurt for you and not be hurt by you. ~Todd White

There is something not quite right between God and me. I have been feeling it in waves over the years, but recently it has been ever present like a nagging ache. I did not know what it was or perhaps I did not want to know what it was even though I did, I am just not sure. However, now it has become so obvious to me that denial is not an option. My Lord has lead me to the point that I not only recognize it, but I know without a doubt I need to address it full on and so I am in a fast, praying to seek His heart on this matter and surrender more...completely.

I have forgiven my father for the abuse my siblings and I suffered from him. I have forgiven my mother for not protecting us, being neglectful of us and ignorant of our emotional needs. I have forgiven other family members and friends for their ignorance and inaction and even for when they tried to help the wrong way. I have forgiven those who still resent me for their families helping me. I have come to terms with the evil done to me and how God had allowed it, because Satan is loose on this earth at this time.

I have forgiven just about everyone I can think to forgive except one group of numerous, mostly unknown-to-me, people who identify themselves as Christians. More than that, I realize that while I have plenty of compassion for the individual, collectively I see people as not being worth it. I got sucked into the idea of looking and acting Christian. I wanted to fit into a pristine model, so I could make others believe I belonged...perhaps make myself believe it as well. However, I became rigid and legalistic and just plain churchy. I felt sorry for people and looked down on them at the same time, the way many people looked at me probably when they found out about my past. This is not the way of my Lord.

My Lord knows how to get my attention; He led us to a small Calvinist church where we went for nearly two years. There was good purpose in this. The pastor had a local radio show and was a very in depth Bible teacher, breaking down the ancient words and their translations, which was so needed for my husband, because he did not have a strong background in the Bible. They still could not convince me to give up the translation of my choice, New American Standard Bible, in favor of the King James, so I was never considered to be the purist that they thought I should be. It was during this time that I began noticing hypocrisies, the main one there was how he preached against legalism, yet it was the most legalistic church I had ever been in or have been in since.

I just want to say that the best way for me to learn about my own faults is to either be touched by someone who is so right in the way I am so wrong or be touched by someone who is extreme in my own wrong. The latter was the case with the Calvinist church so many years ago. Their denial of their extreme legalistic theology made me notice how much the same had taken root in my own heart and I began to soften. In fact, it was this time that I had surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Recently, I have been touched by someone who is so right in the way I am so wrong and the timing is no coincidence. I posted a few videos of Todd White previously. Since then I have watched other videos on YouTube of him teaching and his street ministry. I so lack what he has, a genuine love for people and no fear because he believes without a doubt that God is the Ultimate Power. He is courageous and even outrageous in his approach to people. It does not always work out, but even then he does not give in to feeling defeated. He just loves the people that Jesus loves...all people. The one doing bad things is not his enemy, but that one lost sheep that the Shepherd loves and searches for. Todd believes that Christians are to be the Kingdom, to be Jesus, to all people.

I am not excusing myself, because that love for people is in me for the Holy Spirit is in me, but my life experiences tainted my feelings for people, even people I have known for a long time. Not feeling safe with and not trusting my own parents plays into this. In the back of my mind, not even in conscious thought, is this fear that people are all potential abusers and I feel so vulnerable. One on one I do better, but somehow I am convinced there is evil lurking in a group that can overpower me. This is not just a reserved nature, it is something that has kept me from a ministry that I believe my Lord wishes for me to move into now. If it is not from my Lord or keeping me from full obedience to my Lord, then it is not something I want.

There is one group I need to forgive yet: the church. Not a church, not any one particular church, but the church in general. On one hand, I am angry with the church because it does not recognize God's workings within it and many even hamper the Holy Spirit so much that people are uncomfortable when they do witness miracles. On the other hand, I am very sad because people within the church, including myself, do not know how to be Jesus and just love people. Because of these things, the church only perpetuated my problems within it and with it.

The church has become a place where people can shelter themselves from the world, socialize and have ministries for those who are members and for the purpose of increasing its membership, while outreach became institutionalized and a lost art in our daily lives. (Watch this Todd White video and you will see what I mean.)

This is not how Jesus did it. He did not go out to get more people in His synagogue, but into His church. His church was not a building or in any particular place, but in the heart and soul of the individual. He sent out his disciples...sent them out! They were the church.

There have been times in our life together that my husband and I did not have a church home and a few times when we just gave up looking. This time is very different! We are not looking for a church for the Lord has not yet revealed to us where we are to be. We are simply enjoying the differing forms of worship with other Christians in the churches near us. We would not have had this opportunity if we had stayed in the same church as we had. We have learned much, experienced the Holy Spirit in differing settings, and met people with which we have an eternal life. Sometimes I miss the familiarity of a church home, but the more time I have without it, the more my Lord has been showing me how to be His church.

I missed two really great opportunities last Thursday when I was out on errands to let these two people know that God loved them. As I walked away, I heard my Lord's thoughts on what I could have said. Usually, I would feel I failed Him and be down on myself, but at this time I have this attitude that I am in training and I am going to get it wrong sometimes, yet my Lord, who loves me so much, is going to be persistent in teaching me to be like Him more each day. Later that same day, I was given the opportunity to pray for healing of two others when I was highly uncomfortable about it, because I knew neither was Christian and seemed to be influenced by New Age philosophies. Both felt the healing and through that I helped them to feel God's love for them.

And, I will get better at this. I am surrendering to my Lord and I am forgiving the church as I continue in my fast.

~ My Lord, I wish to surrender myself to You and be as You are with people. ~

Friday, April 19, 2013

Three Days and Two Nights in Pigeon Forge

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking. ~Earl Wilson

This picture and the next one of tulips was taken at Pigeon Forge by my very talented daughter, the Princess. Her eye for photography is so natural to her that she does not even realize how good she is.

You might be wondering at this point how we ended up on a long weekend break in Pigeon Forge and this is how it began: In February, during the public school winter break (they have a week long break about every six weeks) a warm spell that fooled us to believe spring was here (because it was really cold, near freezing, after that until just recently) and I was lonely because my husband had been away for a few weeks, a friend invited me to go with their family on a cookout at a park about an hour's drive away. My daughter fell in love with that park.

While talking and walking around the pond (the park called it a lake—I think not), I offered to take care of their six-year-old during the public school spring break in the next six weeks, which shows how much of a friend she is because I dislike taking care of other people's children as a rule. After talking about Pigeon Forge—spurred by being outdoors among the tall trees and seeing cabins for rent there—and finding out that my husband and I had not been there, my friend began forming this idea. She thought we all should share a cabin at Pigeon Forge on the last weekend of that break.

Now we have been out of debt, except for the mortgage, since October and we have caught up on some things that needed fixing—not all, but some. However, we have a major expense coming up for which we have been saving: replacing widows and siding on our house. I was weighing that in my mind as my friend continued this weekend getaway plan in hers.

My husband thought it would be a good thing too. Inquiries as to availability were made. The cabins they had rented before were not available but a larger one was: four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, hot tub, and game room! Everyone asked for time off work (but me) and sent in the first half of the rent for two nights, however there had been a fire in the Pigeon Forge area afterward and for a few days we did not know if the cabin had been involved.
Friday we left on what could have been just a four hour drive, but we had to stop for lunch. Our cabin was on the lower part of a quiet, pine-covered mountain just outside "the strip," which is the main road lined with side-to-side tourists attractions. Tourist traps are not usually my kind of thing as I prefer the woods and hiking and relaxing and maybe a little shopping, but I am flexible. We did not go hiking, but we did have a nice balance of doing exciting, action things as well as relaxing ones. The food we made and the food we had out was all very goodtoo good so shows my waistline. My friend makes the most interesting dishes that are really easy to make and taste delicious, probably because of her love for cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream. She made a layered taco dip and what she called a chess cake, both quite memorable.

There was a bit of a disappointment when we were looking for the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop. We saw the inside wall with a mural of a cow on the outside of its neighboring store and rubble where the shop had been. I was so looking forward to going there, but there were other ice cream shops. We decided on Marble Slab Creamery and ate way too much of really, really good ice cream. I do not remember feeling hungry at all during the entire trip, which indicates how much I over ate.

Oh, before you go to the pictures below there was one small hiccup. When we arrived home we noticed that one of our rabbits had been moved from one cage to another and the middle one where it belonged was unlatched. Our pets were to be cared for by a neighbor with four rescued dogs and a cat of her own. My husband set up the rabbits with extra water and food so that she would not have to mess with them at all...or so we planned. However, even though both he and I check the cages to be sure they were latched, at some point one of the rabbits got out. Now we have them in a penned area, but it is mostly to keep large animals out and rabbits can get out. So, the next door neighbors' two dogs are going wild because Sharii (Shah REE) is chasing around the half grown rabbit. Now that might sound like a dangerous situation and Sharii can get rough, but usually with a rabbit of this size, not more than an aggressive male rabbit to another. I felt so bad for the lady, but the rabbit came up to her and she got it into a cage. I guess the next time we go anywhere we will padlock the pen, because someone had to have unlocked the middle cage. (And we were more worried about the dog, because we had never done this before with her.)

Anyway, we finally went on a little vacation that we have not done in almost eight years, spent almost every penny we brought with us, had a very good time with lots of memories, and everyone lived!

Bears' Den Cabin

I need to give credit to the photographer here. All the pictures taken of the cabin except for the one she is in was taken by the Princess. She has a very good eye for taking pictures, especially the one of her friend on the porch swing.

(I have to insert here that I am very frustrated with Photobucket as it used to have a feature so that the pictures in the slide show could be placed in the desired order, but it is completely reformatted and I cannot find any way to do it now. Very frustrating!) UPDATE: Yay! All the pictures are showing in the order I wanted for the slideshows now!

Hot Rods

My friend went once and then gave me her second ticket, but I could not drive and take pictures of me driving, but I will add any she sends to me. The Princess had never driven a go-cart before, but she has driven our riding lawn mower under supervision. Still, she was cautious the first time. Afterward, she went all out.

tarayya's 2013 Pigeon Forge - GoCarts album on Photobucket

Hot Air Balloon

Okay, the hot air balloon was actually filled with helium and the "hot rods" where actually go carts, but since the weather was on the cool side for most of our trip, I tried to think warmer.

Old Mill

On Sunday we had to check out before 10:00 AM and we decided to have a late breakfast out in the historical area of Pigeon Forge as well as stop in a few shops, including a candy shop with fudge and salt water taffy made on the premises. It was relaxing for us ladies, but after grabbing the candy, the guys and little girls could not wait to go-cart race again before heading home. By the way, all these pictures were taken by the Princess. (She is so very good at taking pictures!)

~ My Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you for good times and good food, and most of all for good friends with which to share them. ~

Monday, April 8, 2013

Healing in Obedience

Since Christ came to do the Father’s will, the fact that He healed them all is proof that it is God’s will that all be healed. ~T. L. Osborn, Healing The Sick

Some years ago when I was new to healing, a couple in our church were in car accident. I did not know the couple as they were quite new to our church and my husband and I were involved with ministries with youth and drama at the time, but I did know that they were raised in the Catholic church and were now in the Church of the Nazarene.

The man had given a testimony a few Sundays before the accident. He had been a construction worker some years before, but was disabled when he fell and broke his back in several places. He still had terrible back pain, but he was able to start his own construction company on the west coast of Florida, just before Hurricane Andrew hit the east coast. Since there was so much need for construction in the Miami area, he traveled there with his family to supervise the workers and would come home on the weekends when they could. It was a four to five hour drive one-way straight through without any traffic or problems, but not for him. He would have to stop every thirty minutes to get out of the vehicle to stretch and walk around for about ten to twenty minutes, so the drive took six to eight hours.

One of the last jobs he was contracted to do from the Andrew disaster was a church. He had prospered well from the work in the area and the church had little money to rebuild, so he decided to give something back to the Lord and promised to rebuild it at cost...but the pastor had two strange stipulations. You see, the entire church was in shambles with not but one wall standing. This wall had a huge framed picture of Jesus and all the people felt it was a miracle. In fact, it was a miracle because many people were healed when they touched the picture, even just the frame. The stipulations were that 1) the wall would not be torn down, and the new walls would be incorporated with it and 2) that they would build a cage so that people could still freely come and go to touch the picture while the church was being constructed. Both were quite problematic for the construction company, but the owner agreed to the terms.

For the months it took to build the new church, the man watched long lines of people come to pray and touch the picture...and be healed. Even as abandoned crutches, braces, and wheelchairs were lined up outside the wall of the church, the man was skeptical. When the church was finally completed, the pastor and he did a walk through as the pastor admired the work and thanked him. At the end of their conversation the pastor sat with the man in the new sanctuary looking at the picture on the wall and he said, "I know you want to touch it. The doors will lock automatically when you leave. Stay as long as you want." Then he left.

The owner of the construction company felt foolish, but also thought if there was just the smallest chance.... He walked up to the picture and placed his hands on it with tears freely falling from his eyes. Although profoundly moved, he was disappointed when he felt nothing physically and then he left, checking the door to be sure it locked behind him. On the drive from Miami to his west coast home, his family had fallen asleep. His wife awoke startled that they were just an hour from home because he had not stopped. Taking her advice, although not feeling the usual pain and tightness in his legs, he pulled over and got out to stretch as he had been doing for nearly two years on that trip, but this time he had absolutely no pain. He drove the rest of the way home also without having to stop. He had been healed.

Not long after joining our church in Florida, this same man and his wife had been in a car accident. He was in the hospital having seizures for reasons unknown. His wife had whiplash, but had been released.

Before this happened, our pastor had started opening the sanctuary early on Wednesday mornings for anyone who wanted to come and pray before going to work or just any time in the morning. Back then my fasting day had been on Monday, but I felt led to change it to Wednesday and pray at the church. It was on a Wednesday during that prayer time that I felt the Lord pressing me to go to the hospital and pray for the healing of this man and his wife. Now if you really knew me, particularly back then, you would also know how much aversion I have toward hospitals, but not necessarily for the typical reasons. I was well aware then of how empathic I was and being in a place were so many are ill at the same time also made me quite ill while I was there. Additionally, I was pretty new to the healing gift and not confident with it at all.

Needless to say, I was not eager to obey. So, I tried to bargain with my Lord. "I will go, but I ask that no else is there." I went. His entire family was there. His mother and father and sister and on and on. I did not think they allowed so many visitors in a hospital room! I wanted to run out of the room. I thought I could just say some pleasant words and escape or come back after everyone left, but no, I felt it was to be there and then. I was so unsure of myself and even scared, but if the Lord wanted me to pray for healing, then what else was I to do but obey Him.

His wife was there as well, still having neck pain. I asked if I could pray for her and, having said yes, I placed my hands on her neck and upper back. She was healed instantly. Some family members were crossing themselves in the Catholic fashion at that point and I am pretty sure they were not thinking I was a saint, probably quite the opposite. Then I asked the man if he would like me to pray for him and he said yes, even though he was heavily medicated. His wife thanked me and I said we should be thanking God. Then we hugged and I left.

A few days later the man was out of the hospital, much earlier than the doctors had predicted, and at the Sunday morning church service. He was much better, but still on medication and having small seizures. He had three during the service and after the service the pastor called us the few of us left back into the sanctuary asking "anyone who believes in healing prayer" to go to the alter and pray over the man. There were about twenty men and one woman praying for that man, I was that only woman. Immediately, afterward I had to sit down as I was very shaky and could barely stand or walk, which happens to me sometimes when the power of the Holy Spirit overwhelms me during a healing. The pastor eagerly pulled me aside to ask what I felt. We kept this quiet in the church, but the pastor and his wife at times did not contain their enthusiasm very well.

Although the man did not heal instantly, his seizures did diminish in frequency, duration, and strength quickly afterward.

I was reminded of this story, as I wrote Faith in Action, how I terribly uncomfortable I felt that day in the hospital room not sure that I should have even been there and praying for healing too, no less, in front of people who probably thought...well, I don't want to think about what they thought really. I realized later that my Lord had a purpose in it as his family would see the healing happen so that the man could witness to them and the immediate healing of the wife's whiplash was the confirmation that I had been obedient. But, even now, I still am concerned half of the time that I think I feel the Lord pressing me to do something, if I am not just making it up in my head...and sometimes I wish it was true so that I could just dismiss those thoughts, but that does not work when they really are not my thoughts, but His.

~ My Lord, may I hear You clearly, obey You blindly, and bear witness of You through healing and other wonders. ~

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Faith in Action

Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes--all the time! It must be that way, for God's glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world. ~ Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing the Spirit: The Power of Pentecost Every Day

God will never give you more than you can bear. How often have you heard this statement? Did you know that it is not in the Bible? Yet, like many others I grew up in the church believing it. I probably even quoted this misconception to my Lord in prayer!

There is one verse that comes to mind (there are probably more) that does not say this, but that is what people want to believe it is saying.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

This verse is clearly about temptation, the desire to do something against God's will or in disobedience. We are always tempted, so in one respect God has standing orders to resist disobeying Him and promises to not allow the temptation to disobey to be so great that we cannot escape it through Him.

I love the quote above because it demonstrates the difference between an unbelieving believer and a believing believer.

The unbelieving believer wants to believe that God will not ask him to do anything that is beyond his own abilities. He limits his actions by his own knowledge and talents hoping that God is with him or he is with God...within his limitations. He asks for God to help him. The unbelieving believer prays for sick people with a list of their needs and then ends with "if it is God's will" if not in prayer then certainly within his thoughts.

Noah's ark is a great Biblical story of a man who did the right things before there was a Bible. He had a relationship with God and God asked him to do something that was beyond his capabilities and looked absolutely foolish to his neighbors. Okay, he might have been able to build an ark, although why would he unless the Lord asked, but gathering two of every kind of animal and not have the carnivores eat the others or any of Noah's family in the process of the gathering before and keeping after the flooding began? That is a miracle in of itself.

Noah was a believing believer...without a Bible. Yeah, I am really stressing this point because too many times I have heard it said that all the answers are in the Bible and it just never sets well with me. For centuries men had no Bible and yet the ones who conversed with God were the ones written about in it. The Bible is a guide book that is for this world, but unnecessary in heaven; all the answers are in God and we also can converse with Him directly. The problem with unbelieving believers is how they use and view the Bible can get in the way of them actually conversing with God and doing His will specifically, basically being disciples of Christ in action. I am not saying that the Bible is not worth reading and referencing, but that it should not be your relationship with God, or rather take the place of it.

I was an unbelieving believer for first 25 years after I asked my Lord into my heart at the age of eleven, the age my daughter is right now. I know the difference of a surrendered spirit and one who is saved but not yet surrendered. I wonder how many opportunities were missed because I thought I was unable and did not risk on faith, act on faith, as my Lord asked trusting that He was able? How many times have I thought "I believe You can but will You?" How many times have I said "make the way, Lord, and I will go," instead of "I will go to make the way for You, my Lord"?
Sixteen years ago, I surrendered to the Holy Spirit and that is when things—really miraculous things, like healings and words of knowledge and more—really began to happen, but I am still learning how use my faith in action.

The believing believer is not a flawless person, but one who has a surrendered spirit. He seeks to do whatever God wills, to obey his Lord even when others around him do not understand his actions, think he is foolish, or even that he is wrong. He has the faith that whatever God asks of him will be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. He believes in and even expects to witness miracles. In fact, the more impossible something seems, the more excited he is about what God will do. He does not just have a broken spirit, but one broken open to accept the fire of Pentecost.

I don't want to just marvel at the faith-in-action of men like Noah, I want to have that faith-in-action within me.

~ Please, my Lord, give me a listening ear to hear your voice, a willing heart to obey your instruction, and a faith that has action without fear to do things impossible so that it glorifies You. ~

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Misadventures in Multitasking

Many people feel they must multitask because everybody else is multitasking, but this is partly because they are all interrupting each other so much. ~Marilyn vos Savant

Ever since I heard the word "multitasking," I knew that it was an inhuman trait.

According to Wikipedia:

"Human multitasking is the best performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email. Some believe that multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention." (Emphasis added.)
The term is quite popular though, as if everyone should be able to multitask. It became the new catch word on résumés. Good mothers are considered to be natural multitaskers or else...what? They are not such good mothers? They even have come up with a cutesy acronym: M.O.M. standing for Master of Multitasking!

Those who multitask well are highly regarded and those who do not—well, who would want anyone to know that? It reminds me of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes where everyone did not want to admit that the king was parading naked. (I am digressing but that story never made any sense to me even as a child, because who would want to parade new clothes that some people may not see knowing he would appear naked to them even if there had been such a thing?)

Okay, here's the thing...

I am NOT a multitasker!

There, I admitted it. (Cleansing, calming exhale.)

I know myself. I am the type of person who once my attention is pulled off one task, has difficulty shifting back to that task. This is not to say that I am easily distracted, quite the opposite. Once my mind is set to a task, I find distractions irritating and time consuming, not good for a mother who is often distracted by a child's question. However, if I really do not like the task then I may be a bit more welcoming for distractions.

I am more of a single-minded person. One who can give a great deal of attention and concentration to a single task to the point that I seem absent-minded. That is not to say that when I am doing a task that does not take much thought that I cannot engage my mind on other things. One of my favorite things to do is fold laundry while talking on the phone to a friend. You see, I dislike folding and putting away clothes. It is a repetitive, mindless, routine task, but when I am talking with a friend on the phone using my headset so my hands are free and my neck is not pained from holding the phone, I do the task without thinking about it in a very short time. In fact, when a friend calls, I look for clothes that need folding or something that needs cleaning or some other repetitive mindless task. Still, this does not qualify me as a multitasker because any two things done together that requires a bit more thought I do not do well. For instance, talking to a friend and cooking at the same time is never a good idea for me. Listening to music and cooking is okay, but trying to sing along and cooking or baking at the same time, not good either.

This week was one of those weeks that would have gone a bit better if I was a multitasker.

It all started with when I asked my daughter to get chicken wings out to thaw for our dog, as she eats one raw wing for daily breakfast. I did not see until after it was thawed that my daughter had mistakenly grabbed a package of chicken breasts, which makes me wonder how the child who has been reading since she was four years old suddenly cannot now.

Then I went to look in the chest freezer and not finding any wings I mistakenly got out rabbit legs thinking they were the shoulders that we usually give the dog because I was in a hurry and a bit angry. Also, not a good combination. So, then I have the meatiest parts of a chicken and a rabbit thawed but still no raw dog food. I would have to grill these meats, which I did on Tuesday night even though we still had plenty of roast left from the Seder meal and turkey breast that we had thawed earlier for sandwiches and dinners with gravy.

My husband came home Wednesday night and took us out to eat, which is usually my fasting day, but I made an except for the dinner meal. He was supposed to be home in mid afternoon but got delayed and then ended up in spring break traffic. We finally were at the restaurant just before 7:30pm.

Thursday, he warms up the roast which is still very tasty. I mentioned something about the grilled chicken and rabbit, but he says he did not see them in the refrigerator. It then dawns on me how I had put them in the oven to cool while we were eating to keep the cat from getting to them as they were too hot to put into a container just then. Yes, they were still in the oven dried out but not spoiled so they were warmed up in a pan with water and eaten last night...and, no, we did not get sick. You know, people did survive without refrigerators for many centuries.

That was not the worse of it though. On Friday, I also had decided to bake pizza crusts and hamburger buns to freeze. I had not been baking much and so I fed and left out my sourdough starter for a over a day to get it activated. It was doing well so I added enough flour and water for the recipe with some left over to keep as my starter. Zipping to the event, I had baked one pizza crust and was putting in the second when I realized that the starter in its usual glass jar was still near the oven vent to warm a bit when I had the dough rising in the warmed oven. But, now the oven was hot as I was baking and I stupidly picked the jar up, immediately getting burned so I dropped it on its side onto the baking pan. That is when I grabbed the pot holder and stood the jar up hoping to still save the starter while thinking the heat probably killed off all the wild yeast and I would have to make another starter, which takes a least two weeks. One side of the jar had baked some but the core temperature of the starter was warm, not hot. Probably a good temperature for the yeast, I hoped, so I poured out the starter into another container and fed it with more flour and water, which cooled it more.

I made this starter over four years ago and all I can say is I am so thankful for its resiliency! Yes, it is just fine. I should have blistered from the burn, but I have a number of alternative health items at my disposal and it was not even sore within minutes afterward.

Things like this happen when I am trying to homeschool my daughter, write an article under a deadline, and bake at the same time. I am really not a multitasker.

~ My Lord, You are probably a Perfect Multitasker and that is why You are so good at saving me from my misadventures in multitasking. Thank you for that! ~

Monday, April 1, 2013

Theocracy, Not Democracy

We need, men so possessed by the Spirit of God that God can think His thoughts through our minds, that He can plan His will through our actions, that He can direct His strategy of world evangelization through His Church. ~Alan Redpath

The Lord has been laying much on my heart of late. As I wrote Condemnation or Conviction, more came from Him. Some of the difficulties within the church may have been the unintentional result of our idealistic forms of government, particularly in the United States and perhaps other Western countries. If we believe God made mankind then all are equal with equal rights to vote and it seems to logically follow church members have equality in voting on certain issues. Many Protestant churches also have elders or board members who vote on issues that do not require a church vote, the determination of which is set in the church bylaws that are kind of like its constitution.

Before I begin to explain the problems with this system, I would like to say that I fully understand that the church needs to govern and manage itself; I am not against this. However, the framers of any governing documents can only provide guidelines. The execution of the spirit of those bylaws comes from within the church, it's heart and soul. Therein lies the problem.

Many do not consider that they should be representing God's will (not their own) with their vote, and if His will is unknown to them, should they be voting at all?

I mentioned in an earlier post how some church leaders, even pastors, have confessed that they were not really saved even when they were already in ministry, even after graduating from seminary. What they did know was all the right things to say and do so that they and others were convinced they were believers, but how could they possibly know God's will when they did not even have a relationship with God? Then there are the unbelieving believers, who have accepted Jesus as their Savior but have not completely surrendered to God's will, so how can one represent God's will when one has not surrendered to it? The believing believer is one through whom the Holy Spirit can really operate, because the believing believer is one who is surrendered to God's will and desires to hear Him directly so that he can obey Him.

It makes sense that we all are on different levels in our spiritual walk, but so many people in our churches are unbelieving believers...so many. I know this because the Holy Spirit has shown it to me. I know if a person is saved or not and further I know if a person is a not-yet-surrendered unbelieving believer or a surrendered believing believer, because the Spirit of God gives that word of knowledge to me. I do not always know the very moment of first meeting every person, but I will know. The Lord has never told me wrong, but the good news is people can change to believing believers at any time and it is obvious to me this is what the Lord desires.

Some churches have more believing believers and some have more unbelieving believers. I have even been in churches were all were unbelieving believers...all. I cannot tell you how many pastors, ministers, and reverends I have met that were unbelieving believers without knowing it. That is not to say that their ministries were ineffective and not guided by God, but that the work of the Spirit was hindered and they were missing out using such wonderful spiritual gifts that God would give them to use to better serve Him.

Part of the reason we have so many different denominations is we tend to gravitate toward doctrines that are the most comfortable for us, that fit us where we are in our spiritual walk, and since unbelieving believers outnumber the believing believers in general, every denomination, even every individual church, has its own take on what is right according to the Word of God so that the people can feel they are right with God. If you read the doctrines, there are slight variations, but what people really want is a church that makes them feel right with God. (I emphasized this twice for a good reason.)

Feeling right with God and being right with God can be two very different things. If you are right with God, you will feel right with God, but it does not work the other way around: feeling right with God does not mean that you are right with God. Our Father knows who is surrendered and who is not. Which do you think is more right with Him? Who do you think is more likely to represent His will?

Feeling right with God is very so desirable to people that it can so easily be used to deceive us.  

Most unbelieving believers choose a church where unbelieving believers are in the majority because it is comfortable, it makes them feel right with God. (Believing believers usually make unbelieving believers uncomfortable even though it is quite unintentional, but having just a few around is usually tolerable.) If in the majority, the unbelieving believers may vote for things that feel right, but are not necessarily what would be right with God. Their priorities may not be God's priorities, because the majority are not hearing God. In other words, a majority vote may not represent God's will, but they might believe it is God's will because it passed by a majority vote. However, that is like saying that a majority vote in favor of partial birth abortion makes the act of killing a baby while it is in the process of being born morally right to God. See, this just cannot be. God is the ultimate judge of what is morally right and wrong and it is the same with His church. He is Lord; there is no democracy involved.

Although there is not a pure "mob rule" democracy in the church, because it is governed by bylaws, neither is it a theocracy in the pure sense. Although, the church should be a theocracy in the sense that each member should have theocracy within. We should be the vessels through which the Holy Spirit can work, through whom the will of God is made known. However, when the church is operated more like a business than a place of faith, not much thought of representing God's will is put into vote selection. Let me write this another way, if the unbelieving believers are the majority of the church, the Spirit of God is probably in the minority most of the time. (This just breaks my heart.)

~ My Lord, let this be heard by those who need to hear it. Guide them see the need to surrender to Your will completely. ~