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Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Jesus’ Healing Culture

I googled “Jesus’ Healing Culture” this morning and found an article which was truly interesting: 37 New Testament Miracles of Jesus Christ.

It lists in a chart all the healing that Jesus did in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What is most interesting is what stories are repeated in the top three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The number is pretty interesting as well. 37 stories of healing in the New Testament.

Two or three and you might think it is fluke but 37, that’s a substantial number. Substantial enough to make me believe that Jesus’ healing culture continues today.

I’ve seen this healing first hand.

In my ministry with women who have been sexually abused, I’ve seen women believe in themselves. I’ve seen strength come from nowhere. I’ve seen courage to continue blossom in women. I’ve seen women come out of their shells and begin to live anew.

During my CPE internship I saw a lot of death. I saw death in the ER when the EMTs had worked on the person on the scene and then they had worked on them all the way to the hospital and then the ER staff had worked on them and the person was declared dead in the ER. I brought several family members to visit a dead loved one over several hours.

I saw death in the ICU when a young man had flipped his car and was declared dead in the ER but then someone heard a heartbeat. I’ve seen the ICU crew bring this man back 3 times and I’ve been praying with the family and praying that God’s will be done and let this young man go when the family was still fighting for him to live.

I saw death on other floors as well.

I also saw unbelievable miracles. A man rear-ended by a SEMI walked a way from the accident. A woman whose car was under a SEMI walked away with minor injuries. A man who had a stroke was talking with me and praying with me later that evening. I’ve seen people walk away from horrible accidents and people die for no reason.

I have always believed that healing comes in many forms including death. Death is not the miracle that we are all hoping for but sometimes it is the answer that we receive.

Sometimes the answer that we really don’t want to hear is “No.” All of our prayers are answered. Sometimes, albeit infrequent times, we receive the answer that we want to hear, “Yes.” But we have to realize that the answer of a no is still an answer.

This has been a rough year/Christmas season for me and mine. My Grandma Summers died this summer. She was battling cancer and decided that she’d rather be with Jesus. I don’t blame her but I miss her. I miss her laugh and sarcasm and whit. I miss her cookies, even though this year I would not have been able to eat them ;). I asked for healing and got an answer. I asked for more time and got an answer. God healed her but I did not have any more time with her.

My Grandma Shirley went into a home this year. Her body and mannerisms are still here but her mind is gone. I asked God for healing and for a miracle. I asked God for more time. I received answers but did not get the ones I wanted.

This Christmas is really sad. My two Grandmothers, whom I loved dearly and they loved me, will not call this Christmas morning to see how my Christmas was. Grandma Shirley did send a check but it made it a little sadder. She would have done that if she was with it and the fact that my aunt sent it in her stead reminded me that all is not as it was a few years ago.

Jesus heals. I’ve seen him heal in ways that I like and I’ve seen him heal in ways that I do not like.

With the ministry that I do, I must believe that God heals and that God does the work, otherwise my ministry would be pointless. I’ve seen it first hand and so I continue to do the work. And I continue to pray for the outcomes I want, at the same time knowing that sometimes the answer is not one I was hoping for.

Antioch Park at Sunset

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Father’s Day for the Fatherless

I was reading a book today titled Fields of the Fatherless, I was hoping it would be an interesting read. I was hoping it would shed some light on the fatherless but it really didn’t provide me with anything I didn’t already know. It would be a good book for someone who is just beginning to understand that we should be compassionate to the fatherless.
I found this book to be filled with duh statements. One of the first I read was when the author said that he was visiting an orphanage and was surprised at how clingy the children at the orphanage were. This was a duh statement for me because it makes sense. When you go to Africa do not the starving children ask for food? So to do children without love ask for it. They demand it, because they know that they need it.

Tomorrow it will be Father’s day and I have been blessed with a great dad. I have a great relationship with him that has flourished over the years. My dad had to learn how to be a dad because his own dad was absent. How did he learn how to do that? Did he learn it from his mom? I don’t know how he learned to be a great dad, I just know that he is a great dad.

But I know loads of people that are fatherless. Their father may be absent. Their father may be dead. Their father may have abandoned them. Their father may be distant. Their father may be too broken to realize that they have alienated their children. So how do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day?

I know some people who have estranged relationships with their fathers that will be calling to say hello. I know some people that won’t even make the call. I know some people that will be visiting graves or spending a few moments in silence, in remembrance of those who have died.

How do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day? One of the churches that I went to in Pasadena suggested that those who were not Father’s should be celebrated because they were “spiritual fathers.” From my understanding, a spiritual father is someone who shepherds someone through their faith. They are a mentor and friend of sorts with the addition of making sure to point out when they feel that you are doing wrong.

So that takes care of the men who are not father’s but what about the children without father’s? Do we even consider them on this day? Do we even stop for a moment and think about how hard it is for them? About how hard it is for them to not have that special bond with someone?

They do not know, nor do they understand the story of the Prodigal Son. They do not know that joy that the father experienced. They do not understand how someone could love someone after they behaved so badly.

That’s what a father’s love is all about right? No matter how many times I mess up or get myself into trouble I know that my father loves me.

This is sometimes easiest to see on the faces of new dads. The look they have when looking down at their child is one of pure love and pure devotion and pure protection. They would do anything for their son or daughter. So when does this pure love, devotion and protection go away?

Are some men born without it? Do some men just ignore it? What happens? Where does the devotion go?

The fatherless are sad to me. We have always celebrated Father’s day in my house. I found it interesting because my father had an absent father and my mother’s dad died when she was young. Neither my mother or father had fathers when they were growing up and yet they worked hard to give their children what they never had.

We always go out to lunch on Father’s day and tomorrow will be no different. I’m already planning out my pain management for tomorrow so that I can be present to help celebrate Father’s Day with my dad but I know that many of my friends and loved ones won’t be celebrating anyone tomorrow.

And it breaks my heart.

So what can we do on Father’s Day for the Fatherless? A professor once told me to never make a challenge to a congregation or group of people that I wasn’t willing to do myself. So this challenge is not to you alone. It’s to me too.

What can we do for the Fatherless on Father’s Day? I’m not fatherless so I don’t have all the answers but here are some ideas I have been thinking about:

1. A few moments of silence to recognize the Fathers that aren’t with us.

2. Adoption. Take someone who is fatherless with you for the day. Adopt them into your family not only for Father’s Day but adopt them to become part of your family. If there is a divorced family in your church or community and you know that the father is never around then invite the kid over for Sunday dinners once a week or once a month and then on Father’s day include the mom and the kid in your celebrations. If there is an adult in your midst who has an absent father do the same. Invite him or her to become part of your family and nurture them.

3…What are your ideas? How can we help the Fatherless?

I know God is the father to all of us including the Fatherless but we all need earthly fathers as well. How can we help the fatherless not feel so fatherless?

Shiny Leaves or Real Fruit

I was reading a devotion today in Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring stories of courage from Christians serving around the world compiled by Kim P. Davis with introductions by Beth Moore. I bought the devotion at a Women of Faith Conference many moons ago. I had heard Beth Moore speak and I liked the way that she lived by her calling. She was/is called to work with women only and she doesn’t apologize for it. I like that strength of character.

So anyway, a while ago I was doing that series on God’s Faithfulness and I haven’t quite finished it yet but I will continue to write on that series I just want it to be more natural and not as forced.

Anyway I picked up this devotion merely for the title. It is a devotion throughout the year so I turned to today’s date to see what it had to say and I was surprised by the gem I found there.

The verse for the day was about harvest and the author went into what harvest means and how that relates to the work of ministry. What interested me was the exposition on Mark 11:13-14 and how from far away the fig tree looked good. Its leaves were shiny or showy but it didn’t produce any fruit. Then the author went on to ask a piercing question, “Are we abiding in Christ to produce real fruit, or are we producing showy leaves?” (128).

This question applies to both our own personal walk as well as what the church does. Do our programs produce shiny leaves or do they produce real fruit? Does size matter more than content?

Do we read controversial topics without real depth for our personal walk? Do we instead choose to focus on something that matters for us, that will in the end bring us closer to God?

Are we shiny or do we produce real fruit?

God’s Faithfulness #4

It’s funny how difficult this process of thinking about how God is faithful has been. It’s a process of going through the difficult times in my life and trying to remember how God came through.

If you haven’t read #1, #2, and #3 be sure to check them out.

#4 happened last summer.

4. Internships at the last second. In my degree program I needed 2 internships and both internships were gifts.

My first internship I wrangled for myself. One of my good friends, Stacey, was on staff at a pretty cool church in the area. I visited the church a few times and I liked it. It wasn’t close to what I was used to in the Presbyterian church but I liked that. I liked how free it was.

I emailed the pastor on staff with a plan and asked him if he would let me come on as an intern. I had grand plans and was able to part of them. We met a few times before he finally gave me the go ahead and then at my first staff meeting the pastor, the only pastor, mentioned that he was leaving.

I felt completely screwed. I mean you have to have a supervisor for an internship and he was going to be leaving halfway into the 1st quarter of a 3 quarter internship. But I wasn’t as screwed as I thought.

He had me get a woman pastor that would mentor me and I found someone that was willing to work with me. So she was already a go and I talked to Field Ed and they said as long as someone at the church would be my supervisor I would be good to go.

The church wanted to help me. They saw me as screwed but stepped up to help me out. Megan stepped forward and I met with her once every couple of weeks and she mentored me along with my supervisor off site.

The church and God stepped up to help me out. God was faithful in that situation and I was able to meet with two amazing women and learn about how to have a group and I developed good skills I will take with me.

My second internship was with Gwen, my supervisor off site for my 1st internship. She was amazing. I asked the first church if I could do my internship there but they had vision I could not see and let me go. I felt screwed but I have come to see it as a blessing. They mentored me as much as they possibly could but Gwen and her church could offer me so much more.

Gwen offered me an offer I could not refuse:  9 months internship and the opportunity to do ministry in a church that already had a healing language and program.

I learned so much in both of my internships and I got them both as I felt the hammer was dropping on me. So today my question to God is: am I low enough? Have I suffered enough that you will now save me? Or is there more pain to come?

God teaches us lessons and he saves us in his own time but I just wonder how much more the house has to burn down, the water has to fill the car, and the lightening has to strike?

I’m being overly dramatic, I do realize that. I’m just wondering how much more muck there will be to walk through before he rescues me.

I’m trying to remember the point of all of this: to remember times when God has been faithful. God has been faithful in my past and I need to stop focusing on how hard it was and instead focus on how he came through. That is the point of all of this.

It’s been a rough day. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier. Until then I’ll try to hold on to the memory of when he was faithful: Internships at the last second, Food on the table, Surgery when needed, and God held my heart until I could.

God’s Faithfulness #3

If you have missed #1 and #2 be sure to check them out.

Because of the place I am in right now this is a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I actually considered skipping today’s post but decided it is better to keep going than to stop.

God’s faithfulness #3:

3. Food on the table. God has fed me when I didn’t think it was possible.

My seminary career has been long and it has been hard. One of the hardest things has been staying afloat money wise. There have honestly been months when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to afford to feed myself. I could either pay a bill or eat that week.

Do you know how hard it is to live like that? It’s wretched. Any-who now is the time not to focus on how hard it has been but to actually focus on what God has done for me.

In times of great distress about money and eating money would come in the mail. There were several times when someone in my community (I think it was James) would put a card in my mailbox with money for food or a Ralph’s gift card. They always came when I was at my lowest, when I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to eat.

It was always enough and I always felt both loved and cared for. God met my needs through loving people and I praised God and said Thank you whenever I could (when they told me who they were).

See I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in happenstance. I believe God made good people, people who care, people who see a starving girl and give her what they can. These are the people who will be seated at the right and left hand of God because they don’t care. They do not do the work that they do for the acolades but simply because they can and know that it is right.

God has surrounded me with these people for the last several years. They see needs and fix them. They see my hurting when I cannot admit and they love me even though I cannot admit it, they love me in the moment and they are not annoyed by my pain.

God’s faithfulness #3 is supposed to be about the money but I think it’s really about the people. The people that love me. The people who met my needs, the people that were the hands of God reaching out towards me.

God through people provided food for the table and I never went without and as I go through this rough time I will try to remember that God has provided, often at the last second when all I had was faith that he would not let me go to waste, he has provided.

God’s faithfulness #1

I met with my wise friend Vicky today :). We meet once every couple of weeks to talk about things, usually our talks focus on me but this time there was a fair amount of sharing on all sides.

Anyway she mentioned how when we are in the midst of hard times it is helpful to look back and see when God was there.

It was an interesting enough idea that I thought I would take some time each day to write about God’s faithfulness. She actually challenged me to think about (and write about) 10 times where God has been faithful.

As we were talking I decided to take the challenge so here is God’s faithfulness #1:

There were actually a couple of things I thought about when I thought about God’s faithfulness and then I remembered my friend Laura and the discernment group we were part of a few years ago.

1. God held my heart until I could. Some might not understand this but it makes perfect sense to me. A few years ago I was a broken person (well more broken than I am now). I was just coming to grips with all of the abuse that I had endured through my life and I wasn’t able to hold it all together. I couldn’t even hold my heart.

When I pictured what my heart looked like I always saw paper torn apart. I couldn’t hold myself together. It was during this time that Laura had shared a picture that God had shown her. She saw God holding my heart in a bag, he was holding it for me, keeping it and me protected until I could hold my own heart.

He wasn’t going to allow me to rip my heart to shreds and was going to protect it and me no matter what.

Recently I feel like God finally gave me back my heart because I can stand to hold it. I see the beauty in me and no longer just see the damage. I see the scars of me but I also see that my heart is whole. God fixed it and protects it from being broken again.

God put me back together and held the parts of me that I could not hold.

So that’s God’s faithfulness #1. It’s not a tangible thing but maybe tomorrow I will be able to think about something tangible for now I will remember that God was faithful in his protection of me, even from me.

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