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Archive for May, 2016

Romans 12:12

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

HOPE! I have very debilitating polymyositis. Every day I go to three polymyositis groups for support, encouragement, and HOPE! Three years ago before I was correctly diagnosed I had no hope and I was also struggling with heart failure. After 5 cardiologists in Dallas who couldn’t diagnose what was wrong with my heart, I gave up and preparing myself to die.

My husband and daughter had other ideas. They found a heart failure clinic in Houston that specializes in weird heart problems. I didn’t want to go. I had severe doctor paranoia. My daughter chewed me up one side and down the other. She told me to get down there no matter how bad I felt. Good daughter. I did go. The doctor in my the Houston Heart Failure Clinic spent 1 ½ hrs with me. Then she took my face in her hands and looking into my eyes said, “I can help you!” I believed her. For the first time in a very long time I had HOPE. Wonderful HOPE!

But what do we do when there seems to be no hope? Let’s see if this verse can help us.

COMPANION VERSE

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This is a power packed verse. I have quoted it, used it in counseling, and I thought I understood it. But when I hit the wall I lost all contact with these truths. How on earth can I rejoice aways? How can a human being “Be anxious for nothing.”? The answer is within the verse. The only way this happens is when we bring it to God. Notice it says that God is near. It may not seem like it but we need to make it an exercise daily to say over and over “God is right here with me. God loves me no matter what.”

There are three words in this verse for talking to God. 1) PRAYER is just plain talking to God about anything and everything. 2) SUPPLICATION is asking God to do something about it, to help us in the situation. 3) THANKSGIVING is being grateful that God has heard us, that He cares deeply about our situation, and that He loves us far more than we could ever know.

The result of this type of praying is PEACE. This is the reason I lost HOPE was I was NOT doing these things. I was not doing what I knew to do. I call these exercises Hand Holds. Hand Holds are the things we can grab to lift us up out of the hopelessness and depression.

Our verse in Romans tells us to be patient in tribulation. Now that doesn’t seem so impossible. We are armed with help. Notice it says to “…be constant in prayer.” That’s the key! Using these exercises constantly not only results in peace but also guards our heart against future episodes of hopelessness and depression. We need to think of these exercises as tools in our arsenal just like taking antidepressants. Yes! I take antidepressants, too. My body sends out chemical signals that something is wrong. People with chronic illnesses often need more help. People with severe depression also may need extra help. There us NO SHAME in taking antidepressants. You have not failed in your faith. It’s just another means that God can use to help us.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THIS HAS HELPED YOU

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SUFFERING BECAUSE OF PEOPLE WE LOVE

Romans 10:1. Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Saved from what? Incredible as it seems the super religious people in Israel missed the point of Jesus’ message and Paul’s almost completely. We can see in the Book of Matthew the very earthy Jesus getting up every day and attacking the organized religion of the day. They did not understand “God is a spirit. . . worship Him in spirit and in truth” John 4:24

They did not understand the teaching of Jesus and Paul that true spirituality is a LOVE* based life. Moses gave them the great Shema “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6). We could say it this way, too “. . . you shall LOVE!”

LOVE! That’s the basis of true spirituality! A life of LOVE begins with recognizing that God IS LOVE! God’s LOVE is different than human love. He loves us just as we are. We do not have to try to be better for God to LOVE us. He already loves us.

Paul had a deep heartache over his people not understanding true spirituality. We see this pain over and over again in his writings in the New Testament.1 Jesus also expressed his agony over people.2 Both Jesus and Paul suffered physically.3. Both of them put their physical suffering second to their love and desire to help people. Basically the Jewish people of th believed that they had to have all their ducks in a row before they could please God.

We do not have to get our ducks in a row. Jesus and Paul were desperate to get this point across. Paul says, “Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does it all.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 The Message) The first step is recognizing that we are hopeless and helpless to help ourselves. Jesus tells us “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (MSG). I, like most people thought I had to get my ducks in a row. Then God revealed to me that I DON’T HAVE ANY DUCKS!

It’s a gift! This salvation from ourselves and the wrongness within us is free, a gift from God. It has a name too, grace. Grace! I can relax. All the wrong things I’ve said. All the wrong things I’ve done. All the wrong choices I’ve made. All of it taken care of by the LOVE of Jesus. That’s why He left His Father. It’s why He left heaven. He chose to come to us messed up humans and save us. He did this by dying for us and taking ALL the wrongs of every human being who ever lived, you, me, your boss, your mother-in-law, the neighbor down the street, Hitler, the rapist, a murderer, yes, even an ISIS terrorist. No one is left out. All I have to do is accept this gift and decide to let Jesus live His life of LOVE in me.

There you have it. I cannot live the life of LOVE on my own. I don’t even know where to begin to LOVE my enemies. That’s work for Jesus. I just need to learn to let Him do it.  You can ask him into your life right now.

We see in Paul’s prayer for those he loved so deeply, an agony beyond words. I think he knew they would never “get it.” I think he knew they would always be proud of their spirituality which made them hate others who weren’t as “spiritual” as themselves. Their path was a polar opposite of the free gift to the “poor beggar” who comes to God with nothing.

*LOVE – God’s love as opposed to human love

1 Romans 9:1-5; Rom 9:30-33; Rom 11:1-2;

2 Luke 19:43-44; John 11:35

3 Matthew 27:32; John 19:1

Please let me know if this has been meaningful to you.

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This is a new project. Actually two new parallel projects. “Transforming Suffering” looks at how suffering can raise us to a new level of awareness, thinking, compassion, understanding, and spirituality. As I was using “All the Prayers of Paul” for my private devotional time, I discovered that his prayers fit in very nicely with how suffering is redemptive and transforming.Redemptive suffering is when you go through a problem or pain for the benefit of others.

I have several very serious medical conditions. Polymyositis is a weakening of my skeletal muscles caused by inflammation. It has weakened my lung muscles to the point that two weeks ago I was transferred by ambulance to Houston Methodist because I quit breathing. They gave me 1000ml of Prednisone infusion every day for 5 days. Now I will receive a home infusion every 3 weeks. I also have a heart problem called dyastolic heart dysfunction. Basically, that is a hardening of the bottom portion of my heart.

I share these things so that you will understand what I am going through as I go through it. Also I want you to know that thus us not an academic exercise. My hope is that you will find help and hope in whatever you are suffering whether sickness, financial, marital, loss if a loved one, , mental illness, or whatever your suffering may be.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

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CULTIVATING THANKFULNESS

ROMANS 1:8-10

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

Thankfulness is a transforming attitude. Paul opens the letter thankfulness for their faith. This puts it on a positive note before he begins to express some negative things about the Roman Church. Paul follows this pattern in many of his letters. It’s a good pattern for us to follow. Always start on a positive note when correction is necessary. Follow this pattern in all your relationships, husband, children, friends, new acquaintances, etc.

Thankfulness is embracing. It’s an attitude that’s as good as a hug. It fills us with joy. Often I have talked with people who say they can’t find anything to be thankful for. Here’s a very quick solution to that problem.

Exercise 1)
Sit in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply ten times. Open your eyes and express thankfulness for what you see in the room.
Say “I am thankful for my feet.”. Ask “Why am I thankful for my feet?”. “Because I can walk. I do not have pain in my feet.” Continue this way for as long as you wish, naming other things that you see. Fifteen minutes is a good goal. You might want to journal your exercise in thankfulness.

Thankfulness brings us closer to each other. Paul prays for them intensely. Thankfulness gives him a heart of joy and yearning to see them despite their short comings.

Exercise 2:
Sit quietly in your comfortable chair and breathe deeply as before. This time start naming people you are thankful for. Include people who have disappointed you as well as those who haven’t. Examine your mood, attitude, and emotions during this exercise. Don’t judge yourself. Just objectively look at them.

Please let me know if this has helped you or if you would like more information.

1) Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

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In everyday life, most Christians avoid talking talking about their faith. They freeze up. They don’t know what to say. Or they fear rejection. Or they don’t want to come off as a narrow-minded jerk. The truth is, most people–even most churchgoers–lack a basic understanding in how to naturally bring faith into a real conversation. How […]

via Talking About God Without Being a Jerk — Holy Soup

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