What If My Son Isn’t Healthy?

I hadn’t let it get to me before, despite the comments of others. “As long as he’s healthy…” I’d hear them say. But what if he wasn’t? It may make life harder, but would it make it any less blessed?

Then today, fear struck me. The possibility of Lyme disease being passed from me to my child paralyzed me for a moment. I mourned for the life he may encounter with such opposition.

Not that any other opposition is less of a fear, but the memories and possibilities of Lyme disease are all too familiar. If you don’t know about the prevalence of this disease in my life, you can read a bit about it here in my testimony. I’ve known a lot of people with this disease; I’ve seen people no longer able to keep their jobs, continue school, or enjoy former hobbies and activities as they are confined to their beds.  And of course, I know firsthand the pain of this disease and how difficult it is to treat, especially if passed from mother to child in the womb.

As these thoughts penetrate my mind today and tempt me with fear, they also challenge the foundation of my hope: Do I hope merely for that which is seen – the physical blessings of this world – or do I hope for that which is unseen – the reality of heaven?

Of course, I hope for my son to experience health and happiness. But beyond such a temporary hope, I long for Him to experience Jesus.

Hope in the latter brings me back to reality. This life passes quickly and Jesus is coming soon, so we persevere through present sufferings with our hearts and minds fixated on this unseen hope of heaven (Romans 8:18-25).

Because if I only hope for my son to be healthy and not suffer the pain of such a disease, or of any disease or ailment he may encounter, then my hope will be crushed because suffering and pain are prevalent in this world.

So I turn my hope to Jesus because He alone is able to redeem the sin and suffering we encounter in this world and the former fears fade in light of eternity and the joy of knowing Him.

While I continue to pray for His miraculous power to protect my son, I trust in His goodness and sovereignty, whether through sickness or through health, and I pray that my son would know Him who makes all things new.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…” -Romans 8:18

I Believe

I believe in a God who restores health and who inflicts pain.

I believe in a God who gives life and allows death.

I believe in a God who promises joy and assures us of sorrow.

I believe in a God who extends mercy and executes judgment.

I believe in a God of grace, and I believe in a God of war.

I believe in a God who hates sin but who loves sinners.

I believe in a God who rejects the unrepentant but forgives those who ask.

I believe in a God who is fearful and yet approachable.

I believe in a God who is sovereign.

I believe in a God who is Love.

I believe in a God whose ways are not my own.

And I believe in a God whose ways are better than my own.

I believe in God the Father; I believe in God the Son;

I believe in God the Holy Spirit; and I believe they are One.

I’ve wrestled with these different and seemingly contradictory attributes of God — uncertain of how I felt about a God who inflicts pain, a God who rejects the unrepentant yet good person, a God who forgives those sins I wouldn’t forgive — but I am certain that HIS sovereignty is good. As we study the Bible, we are faced with the questions: do we believe in this God and will we submit to Him? And after years of seeking Him and knowing Him, I testify that in all these things, He is good, and I say with confidence: I believe. Choosing to believe in Him and submit to Him…it changes everything.

Are there aspects of God that are hard for you to accept? How have you sought Him and yielded to Him in these questions?

Is He MY God?

“The LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods…Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture.” Ps. 95:3, 6-7

“He’s either God in my life or He’s not.” I listened as a wise woman said this the other day in conversation.

The statement is not in regard to whether or not He is God…He is. The statement is in regard to my life. Is He MY God? Is He Lord in my life over everything – over my marriage, my relationships, my work, my dreams and desires, my will and my emotions, my entire being? Because He either is or He isn’t.

I think we all have parts of our lives that we are lord over or that we allow to be lord over us. It is often in those things we try to control, or in those things that control us. And we submit to these false gods and allow our flesh to reign over the Spirit that resides in us.

Christianity isn’t a nice tradition, or a religion we can practice on Sundays. It’s not a piece or fraction of our life. It is our life because as Christ followers, He is our life. And He must reign over and in every facet of this life we live. He must be glorified. He must be God.

Because He’s either God in my life…or He’s not.

“Lord, reign and be glorified! Allow us to discern the sin and the lies that remove you from the place of Lordship in our lives. It is all about you. It is all for your glory. You are God…you are our God.”

Is Your Faith Stale?

Our churches are full of people who hear the Word of God, but do not always walk in it. And our churches are full of people who feel dead in their faith.

I’m sure all sorts of names and faces just flashed through your mind. But don’t be too quick to point fingers. We’ve all been there, even us weekly church-goers and Bible-readers. At times, our faith seems dead, boring, and fruitless; and consequently, our God appears dead, boring, and spiritless. How can this be? What do we do when our faith seems a bit stale?

God tells us in James 2 that faith without works is dead shortly after He tells us in James 1 to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. Our faith must be exemplified by doing God’s Word. And the result? As we step out in faith, God’s Spirit works in us to produce fruit in our lives and to awaken us spiritually.

If you are feeling stale in your faith, go and be a doer of God’s Word. If you don’t know what to do, ask God and wait silently for Him to respond. Oh, trust me, He will respond. And then you must act. It may be sharing the gospel with a stranger, friend, or yes, even a family member; bringing a meal to someone in need; or showing sincere kindness to that person who wronged you. Sometimes I go downtown and ask God who I can serve, pray for, or love on, and He faithfully shows me the person in need. Then He enables me to do that which He has commanded me to do. As we step out in faith, it is exciting to see God work in us and through us, even in the most simple of Biblical commandments.

Being a doer of God’s Word is really being a vessel for His Spirit to work through us to do His will and His work on earth. And as you become doers of His Word, your faith will be alive and active, and you will be blessed in what you do[1].

[1] James 1:25

The Hard Questions

Have you ever faced a question that challenged your faith? Have you ever been faced with a circumstance that was so horrific, you didn’t know where it fit into your Christian world? If you haven’t…you will. We live in a fallen world full of pain, disease, and depravity. If we don’t ask the questions, someone else will ask them of us.

We can deal with these questions of faith – or even crises of faith – in three ways: 1. Shrug it off too fearful it would challenge our faith and leave us hopeless 2. Deny God’s existence because of the world’s depravity or 3. Ask God the questions and go to His Word for His response. So what are these “hard” questions? Here’s a few that are bound to come up:

  1. Why does God allow pain and affliction?
  2. Is God really good and does He really care?
  3. Is God even real?

I’ve faced some of these hard questions myself recently while reading a book called Half the Sky, a book about the horrific oppression women face worldwide. Specifically, why does He allow this pain and affliction? I’ve also had these questions asked of me from a woman whose friend was just diagnosed with cancer. How are we to respond?

When I need to know the truth, I go to the Truth. When I need peace from the storm that rains havoc in my life, I go to Him who is Peace. When I struggle with the character of God or doubt His sovereign wisdom, I go to the testimonies of people who had all reason to struggle and doubt, and yet who personally found Him to be faithful and sovereign.

Asking Him the questions allows our faith to grow. We become confident in His Truth and in His perfect character as His Word validates that He is a good and righteous God. When you face these life-altering, faith-challenging questions or situations, ask God and then go to His Word for His response. Seek out the Truth and be in continual prayer. He speaks through His Word to bring light to the darkest of situations, to give wisdom to those who ask, to bring peace and increase faith.

“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, for all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He”. –Deuteronomy 32:4

“But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” –Psalm 73:28

How Do You Picture Jesus?

When you hear the name Jesus, how do you picture Him? Who is Jesus? This past week as I was sitting in class, I thought about these questions. As I imagined Jesus, this is what immediately came to mind:

Shoulder-length brown hair. A Jewish beard. Olive-toned skin covered in a white cloth robe. Brown eyes probably, though I am not certain. I picture Him somewhere between 5’8 and 6 ft tall. Somewhat thin, though not bony.

In fact, I pictured Him awfully close to this image:

I pictured a man.

Too often, our view of Jesus is limited and small because we picture Him as only a man. Yet He was fully man and fully God. We cannot separate Him from being part of the Triune God that He is. Our view of God must align with what the scriptures portray. Yes, Jesus was fully man when He walked on earth, but He was also fully God. So, let me ask the questions again: when you hear the name of Jesus, how do you picture Him? Who is Jesus?

He is the part of the Triune God; IMMANUEL, which means “God with us.” God the Father’s only begotten Son, who was before time began and who is forevermore; the eternal Word of God. He is a Living, Intelligent, Personal Being. He is the TRANSCENDENT GOD; Omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is YAHWEH, JEHOVAH, JESUS of Nazareth; He is Salvation. He is the Eternal and the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. The angels worship Him. All will bow down before His GLORY. He is the GOD of GLORY, the ALPHA and the OMEGA. He is the LORD of LORDS and the KING of KINGS. He is indescribable and unimaginable. He is too GREAT for our finite minds to comprehend. He is GOD.

JESUS cannot be confined to an image of any kind. We need to see Him as He is and worship Him for who He is. When we picture Jesus, I pray that we will picture Him in His Glory. And as we think about how great and awesome and mighty He is, may we continually realize that we still have no idea just how great He is, for it is beyond our comprehension. This is JESUS and this is GOD, let’s give HIM praise and glory, for whom all glory is due!

Overflowing or Drying Up?

“As Christians, our cup should not be half empty, nor should it be half full;

rather, it should be overflowing.” – Anonymous

It’s easy to fall into a routine way of living and a routine way of faith. We learn quickly how to be “good” Christians, do “good” things, and pour into those around us through Christian acts of service. Yet, in the midst of pouring out into others we forget the preeminent factor that we must be poured into ourselves…by Jesus. How? It lies in the first commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and love Him by directing our heart, our thoughts, our desires, and our passions toward Him, the overflow of the Spirit ministering to us is like a river that does not run dry.

Ministry—which, as Christians, should simply be living life—must come from an overflow of personally living out the first commandment. Otherwise, we minister to others by pouring into them and emptying our cup. Alas, our cup becomes only half full. Yet, we must still pour into others; it is, in essence, part of the great commission. So how do we pour into others without emptying our glass, drying up, getting weary and burnt out? It is a question of utter importance. How will you authentically and self-sacrificially love others, repeatedly forgive your offenders, relentlessly and humbly serve those around you, and intentionally spread the gospel without emptying your glass and drying up?

There is only one way: by positioning yourself beneath the fountain of Living Water, Jesus. Direct your heart, thoughts, desires, and passions toward Him and the overflow will come through that intimate relationship of pursuing the heart of God.

Are you pouring out or are you pouring over into the lives of those around you? Is your cup overflowing?

God, Did You Mean It?

Dear God,

I’ve been praying this same prayer for years now; and yet it remains unanswered, unfulfilled and even seems impossible at times. Were your promises for real? Do you hear me?

Still Waiting,                                                                                                                  Brandee

Do you often find your name inserted at the end of this prayer? Have you ever felt like God doesn’t hear your prayers or like He isn’t faithful to fulfill His promises?

What promises? Well, here are just a few:

He provides (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6). Train a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). Love never fails (1st Cor. 13). He hears the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:29; 1st Peter 3:12). Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4).

Do you feel like you are in a gap between God’s promises and the fulfillment of those  promises? Perhaps you’ve been in that gap for years.

Abraham stood in that gap for 25 years. God promised Abraham that He would give him a child from Sarah and multiply his descendants. Well, at nearly 100 years old and 25 years since God’s initial promise, Sarah wasn’t pregnant. It would have been easy to give up hope in God after 25 years of infertility and beyond the age of childbearing, but apart from a few moments of doubting, Abraham and Sarah chose to believe God, even in seemingly impossible circumstances.

Joseph stood in that gap for 13 years. He was 17 years old, the second youngest of all his brothers, when the Lord gave him two visions, both portraying him reigning over the land. Those 13 years of waiting on God to fulfill Joseph’s dreams seemed only to disprove the validity of his dreams all the more. His brothers sold him into slavery, and then once in Egypt as a servant to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape and had him thrown into prison. Yet God was faithful, and at 30 years old, Joseph was appointed to rule alongside Pharaoh in Egypt.

Regardless of the time gap and all the odds against these men, God proved Himself faithful. And these men also proved faithful. They waited on the Lord and believed His promises were an absolute. God was sovereign and wise in it all. I believe God’s Word is infallible and irrevocable. God not only meant what He said, but He is sovereign to fulfill His Word in our lives when we submit to Him.

Today, I encourage you to keep hoping, keep believing, keep trusting, and most importantly, keep praying. You may be in the gap between God’s promises and His fulfillments, but I promise He is faithful even in the gap.

Still Waiting…and Still Believing,                                                                                     Brandee