Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

When God Fails

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Bible, Health

Did the title get your attention? Those words crossed through my brain more than once this week and I caught my thought process each time. Let me start from the beginning of my week…

Sunday was amazing! You know the feeling you get after being at a camp, retreat, conference or getting out of the norm and spending time with God? Some call it a “spiritual high.” After working with teens in JDC, I don’t really take to that term anymore. I guess you can call it “feeling God.” Really…isn’t that it? You come back from an amazing event where someone had guided your thought process into a new defined relationship with God – you learned something new, you shared, you learn from others…you can literally feel God alive in your life. It’s a great place to be. I attended the Children’s Pastors Conference and you can’t not attend this networking event – surrounded by literally hundreds of children’s ministry workers (both paid and volunteers) who love God as much as you do and have been created for ministry, just like you – you can’t worship next to others from different affiliations and backgrounds and all across the country WITHOUT returning in just an awe for Who God is and What HE is doing. To be this excited and humbled – and return to a place I call home and family here at Palm Bay Christian Church – it was a great experience. I love what I do…but I love where I am even more. It’s just a great place to be in my life.

With this being said – I turn around Monday to start the week with doctor’s appointments. The pain had returned in my legs over the weekend. I pushed myself too hard…but for good reasons. Yet, the pain was back. I stopped my daily devotion time because I was at the conference and just really busy networking with everyone (mistake number 1). I knew my appointments were coming up and I just assumed everything would be fine and that God pulled through in such a big way before, He would rise to the occasion again (mistake number 2). Monday morning I get back to the office and immediately start trying to get caught-up instead of mentally preparing myself for my appointment (mistake number 3). You see where this is going don’t you?

I get to the doctor’s office frazzled and reality quickly set-in. I wasn’t feeling calm. I wasn’t really feeling good at all. I allowed circumstances to take control and now I was going to deal with the scattered pieces. Somewhere between getting weighed (seriously, is that really needed at EVERY appointment…I still think that scale is off big time!) and waiting for the neurologist to enter, reality sank in…this was not going to be good. I did what any, rational person would do in my situation – I put on my game face and got prepared to justify my actions (even though I knew I messed up).

The neurologist did the muscle energy test and realized that my reflexes were again getting slower…my knees are always the first to go. It’s annoying watching your body suffer and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. Yet, I wasn’t anywhere near the point of my “Juice-Up” week. I could stand with a cane…I needed my cane, but I could stand upright and somewhat balance without support if needed…until my knees gave out. Yet, this is not where I was on that amazing Friday, just a short week ago. I knew that. My neurologist knew that.

Just a side note here – I will never mention the names of the doctors I see on this blog. Because this is a public place and I don’t always agree with all of their decisions, names will not be used. Yet, if you are one that would like referrals, let me know!

The visit continued with a cardio check with my pacemaker. I was scanned (this alone is a new experience for me…I literally live with technology now!) and the report spit out that my heart was not beating regularly, specifically during the early hours of the morning (2am-5am window). A few times the report included a stall in the pacemaker’s response to initiate. My neuro quickly contacted my cardio and set-up an appointment for later on…today actually in about 1 hour.

I was also consulted reference a few spots they have been following off of my CT and MRI scans. At this point, the doctors are varying widely on opinions – ranging from formation from birth to a small sized tumor (easily treatable in my case). Yet, with these spots being there, the doctors believe this is what may be keeping the CIDP in this constant cycle and not allowing the IVIG to stay in effect as long. Just to keep you (the reader and friend clear) – these spots measure a dime to a penny in size and are not growing. No diagnosis has been made and they have been following these since August.

With all of this being said – my neurologist looked at me. I looked at him. I took a deep breath and let him go. Doctors aren’t always the most empathetic or compassionate. This guy is neither – YET he does stick to the reality of what is going on. This statement stood out to me the most, “Bethany, your life has changed and you are pretending like nothing is different. You are no longer who you were – your lifestyle has to change, period!” CIDP is one of those conditions that can be made worse by not listening to your body. When you get tired, you rest…not in a few minutes, but that second. I was tired since Wednesday…and hadn’t stopped. I knew this was coming, but I just wanted everything to be fine.

I wanted to say God healed me, permanently.

The truth is, I do believe God moved in a powerful way that Friday, but cidp is still a part of my life. God isn’t always going to prevent my pain. God isn’t always going to “wow” my doctors. God isn’t always going to do what I think is best.

Sometimes, like there in that doctor’s office, I buy into that lie that God fails.

I could ramble on my thoughts through that evening as I tried to digest everything I had been given. It’s not fair. I just returned from a conference and I have so many programs and outreach events I want to do. Now, I’m being told that I can’t because my body that (in all fairness here) God created and God can heal…and I can’t do ministry because of a broken body? Really? Are you kidding me?

I was mad. I was frustrated. I hid it well. I went from feeling God so close one day to being furious with Him the next. Good thing wrestling with God is something that’s been going on for a while. Look at Job – he told God like it was and God pretty much put Job right back in his place too (Job 38-41). I knew that…but I didn’t feel that.

Yet, God ain’t done yet (I still have my Kentucky roots y’all).

On Tuesday I started my day continuing through my Youversion plan – I was going through the Gospels and I was on John 6. It was supposed to be an easy read. Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus walked on water. Jesus talks with the crowd. I’ve read it all countless times. But this time, something just nagged at me. I ended up reading the entire chapter THREE times and that nagging feeling…that feeling I get like there is something here that I don’t agree with…that feeling wasn’t leaving me. I literally closed my journal without writing a single word…this one was going to take some deeper thought.

On my way to Walmart the light bulb came on. Nothing really triggered it, but I just could not get the sequence of events out of my head. Are you ready?

God is saying, “I AM who I AM. That’s all you need.”

Let me explain…

John chapter six opens with the feeding of the 5000. Jesus takes the lunch of a small boy and feeds the crowd until they are full and still have baskets leftover for more meals. The people were amazed and wanted to crown Him king, but Jesus slipped away from the crowd to be alone (verses 1-15). The disciples waited for Jesus but as the evening grew dark, they decided to get on a boat and sail to the other side of the area. As a storm broke out Jesus came to them walking on the water and they immediately let Him in the boat (verses 16-21 and this does not record Peter’s walk). Here’s where things get interesting for me – the next day the crowds come back wanting to see Jesus. They look in the area where He fed them and discovered He was not there. Then they find Him on the other side of the water and swarm Him. (verses 22-24)

Then you read the dialogue:
25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man<sup class="footnote" value="[f]”>[f] can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

(In other words – Jesus is asking these people to love Him for Who He is, more than the signs He can do).

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

(The people figure, if He doesn’t want to feed us, maybe we can learn how to do that trick. THEY MISSED THE POINT COMPLETELY).

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

(Point blank – how can they get this one messed up?)

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’<sup class="footnote" value="[g]”>[g]”

(They messed it up…they are still focused on wanting to see Jesus doing something incredible, in this case with food. My guess is that the guys must have been hungry and the wives hadn’t gotten breakfast ready yet….seriously, you notice their one track mind?).

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

(Though they might not get this yet because the cross is still a ways away at this point, they do know that God has told them that He would been sending them a Messiah to save them from their sins. Jesus is saying “I’m here guys…its more than just bread – I’m offering you salvation!”).

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

(Big shock…they miss it again…)

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36

(My interpretation here…LOUD AND CLEAR – “Bethany, I AM who I AM. I AM all you need.”

I wonder how many times we get caught up expecting God to show-up in ways that He has done in the past, when He is just saying, “I am bringing you so much more than just temporary healing. I have brought you eternal life. Now go forward and live like you believe it!”

Granted, some of us may be wanting God to show-up and do big things for all the right reasons – I would do anything for God to heal my CIDP and get these doctors off my back…in all reality, I’d love for Him to just show-up like He did on that Friday again…an unexplainable improvement and STILL baffles these guys! I love it! Yet, it really is only temporary. What if God did cure me from my CIDP? Great! But not too many steps down the road would I be asking for something else (my kids to get better, Steve to get into a nursing program and be Dr. Oz’s assistant…small thins like that). God can easily cure the temporary, but the thing that makes God who He is, that’s what seperates God, Our God, from everything else! It’s the salvation He brings to us through Jesus Christ. That’s it! It’s more than the amazing wonders He does…Jesus was more than feeding the 5000 and accomplished much more than just walking on water. He communicated that God loves us and His plan was to be together with us, but our sins got in the way. We can’t get to God by our own good deeds or trying to live the perfect life. Paying the price for our sin, God sent His Son Jesus to die for us and rise again so that we could be saved and have an eternal relationship with God forever – AND essentially live a better life here on earth through that amazing relationship.

Don’t miss that! Don’t get too caught up chasing what God “could do” that you miss what He has “already brought”! Now, that grumble for bread will always be there – we want God to do big things in our life. Yet, it should never cause us to lose sight of who He is.

Plus, God uses us anytime, anywhere…even if our stomachs are rumbling a little louder than usual.

So, this put things in perspective for me in a big way – a little dose of reality that I needed. I just wanted to share.

You are truly “bought as-is and used as His.” So, use what you got, with all you got, for the One you got it from!

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Blessed

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Bible

It’s Wednesday morning and for the first time in over a year, I entered my office here at the church and it was CLEAN! It felt SO good to finally have the energy and the time to organize files, books, cards…and say “out with the old and in with the new.” Most of you have already done that last week, but I didn’t get that opportunity. Isn’t it encouraging to look through old documents, past pictures, children’s artwork and notes that you wrote over the last year? It was for me…I added several items to my “Encouragement” folder that I have here in my office. I go to it often…2011 was the hardest year in my life, yet filled with the richest blessings. Ever been there?

Today during my devotion time, I was in Matthew chapter 5. I use the Youversion app and I just completed the 100 Essentials Reading Plan. I just started a daily reading plan that walks me through the Gospels. Some days – like today – I get stuck and can’t get my mind past what I’m reading and I fall behind. I can’t tell you how much this devotion time means to me. If I miss it, my entire day suffers. Even if I get through my devotion time and think, “Okay…that was nice but I didn’t exactly have an a-ha moment” – it still carries me through my day.

Today was the Beatitudes, just a portion of the Sermon on the Mount.

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (I have felt my need for Him a lot lately…this just struck me in the face…even if my the earth we are classified as being rich, we are nothing without Him).

    4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted. (God gives us permission to show emotion here…why do we hide it so much?).

    5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.(This one I really like…the humble get what the proud strive for…and most of the time the humble don’t want what is given to them! Humbleness is not easily learned, rather it comes through life experience. When one learns that God is everything, our ownership of anything becomes almost pointless. Humility is realizing that God is in control and that you truly will bring absolutely nothing out of this world).

    6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b]
for they will be satisfied.(I wonder if the satisfaction is in the ending that one day God will bring true justice…I’m sure not satisfied sometimes! Maybe this is one I need to work on).

    7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. (I think mercy can only be understood by those who have experienced it and know how to show it to others…you have to be able to recognize a good thing in order to receive it in your life).

    8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God. (Some of my most amazing “God Things” occurred when I at least FELT like this…but its a daily – sometimes hourly re cleansing. Good thing God sees us better than we see ourselves sometimes).

    9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God. (I think this one pretty much sums it up itself…children of God bring peace).

   10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.(Ever been here…I have.).

AND HERE’S WHERE THE LANGUAGE CHANGES….
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you<sup class="footnote" value="[c]”>[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Before we got here the language was “God blesses THOSE” and suddenly, it was changed to “God blesses YOU.” God knew His followers would endure trials and would be under special attack from Satan due to our love for Christ. Jesus changed the language here because He was talking to His followers…the crowd! Until this point the crowd is going, “I want to be poor. I want to be humble. I want to hunger and thirst for justice. I want to be merciful. I want a pure heart. I want to work for peace.” And then, WHAM…Jesus starts talking directly to THEM…YOU and then all of these bad things like persecution, lies and verbal abuse. I wonder if anyone was thinking, “Ugh Jesus…can we go back to the merciful stuff now?”

Reality is, life is hard. Life with Jesus is hard. Yet, life knowing Him and the reality that He will never leave your side is more than just enough, its a Truth that is worth living for. That is what sets true Christ followers apart from the crowd. Everyone suffers, but those who have endured trials and can stay focused on Him…they see that reward and a relationship that truly is out of this world.

I think that’s what is getting me through these crazy days. I know God is still here. I feel Him. I see Him. He’s right here dancing in the rain with me…and that is something worth living for. (But remember, blessed are those who MOURN – they will be comforted…thus, God doesn’t expect happiness all the time because then, how could we be comforted?).

Deep thoughts and a lot of them. I thought it was worth sharing.

I’m feeling SO good today (I even ate cereal WITH the kids this morning!). Finally keeping real food down! This might be my last post for this week, being I leave this afternoon for the Children’s Pastors Conference in Orlando. But I’m taking my cell phone (which is usually how I post anyway)…maybe there will be a few pictures worth sharing!

Have a great day…and remember YOU ARE BLESSED!

Up Late…Or Up Early?

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Bible, God Moments, Health

I’m still not sure which way this one goes. Yesterday (Friday) I was up until 4am…fell asleep and got up around 9am. This morning I went to bed around 1:30 and I was up again at 4am…and I’ve been up since. In a way its relaxing…everything is quiet and calm. On the other hand its annoying that my pain is keeping me awake…again. Unless its something worth going to the ER for, I let Steve sleep. The guys will be up soon enough anyway…and somewhere in-between Elmo and Sid The Science Kid Ill finally catch my ride to dreamland for a few minutes…but its worth it.
People have asked me to describe the pain I have related to my CIDP. The closest thing I know to compare it to is the feeling you get after your legs fall asleep…that intense, hard, numbing, burning feeling….can you relate? I get that starting in my feet, shoots up through my ankles, to my legs and then just stays there…constantly. I also have it in both hands that shoots to my elbows and into my shoulders. Tonight it is in both places and not stopping…yet I have discovered I can hold my cell phone at just the right angle as not to escalate the pain…but allows me to write…as I am updating right now. See, the glass is half-full.
I really can’t complain. Just a few short weeks ago prior to my pacemaker implant, I caught myself saying to a friend “I just need some quiet time for me…nobody but me!” ….and here’s my sign! Who knew our house could ever be this quiet…and in the dark it even looks clean too!
So, I vote for it being up early today…seems like too often Steve is up with the boys while I’m sawing logs. I’m so thankful for him. Steve never reads my blog, which is fine…he gets the real thing all the time…poor guy!
Everyone should be up in 30 minutes. I’m going to read through my devotional…perfect timing.
Happy New Years Eve! Ill post more on that later!
In HIM,
Bethany

UPDATE (just before midnight)
I ended up getting an hour to spend reading, thinking and just talking to God. My devotion led me to 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Keeping in mind that I was still dealing with intense pain and very sleep deprived…I soon read:
(Verses 6-7 NLT): For God, who said, “let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, bot we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. (I love this next part!!!) This makes it clear that our great power is from God, NOT FROM OURSELVES.”

Yep, that;s me! Stuck in a fragile clay body that falls apart so much…yet my joy, my smile, the thing that keeps me moving forward is that faith God has placed in me through Christ. It was SO beautifully summed up!

Have you ever needed God to say, “I get it. I know what you are feeling!” This was one of those times I felt God saying, ‘bethany, you need to read this TODAY, RIGHT NOW. I’m here always and I’m never letting go.”

And yes…those of you out there going – You LEFT OUT THE BEST PART of the passage…

Verses 8-10 NLT: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Ditto…really, what more can I say that tops these Truths here? PERFECT! These Words have completely guided my day.

Happy New Year everyone!

Last thought: Surround yourself with people who know your worth. You don’t need too many people to be happy, just a few real ones who appreciate you for exactly who you are.

A Thought From 2 Timothy

Posted: December 28, 2011 in Bible

I’m in the process of trying to complete the Essential 100 reading plan from Youversion. It has guided me through 50 readings from both the Old and New Testament. I must admit, most days I’m really excited to see what’s next. Even the most known passages to me, have been given new light.

Today’s passage was 2 Timothy 2:1-26.

Smack dab in the middle of the reading, Timothy rubs his eyes and reads, “(verse 11) This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with Him,
we will also live with Him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny who He is” (verses 11-13). NLT (my favorite translation).

Everything was going along great for me here, until I go to those last 2 lines dealing with HIS faithfulness and our lack of it at times. Ever been there? Ever been going through the battle of life, fighting on the front lines and then finding yourself going, “Am I all alone now?” Most of us have…I’ve been there several times.

I really enjoyed reading this. I pictured myself sitting and talking with my Coach. He was saying…
“Bethany, it you die with Me, you will also live with Me.”
ME…”Yep…right on!”
“Bethany, if you endure hardship, you will reign with Me.”
ME: “That sounds great…I’m there!”
“Bethany, if you deny ME, I will deny you.”
ME: “I understand. I never want to be ashamed of You.”
“Bethany, if you are unfaithful, I will always remain faithful, for that is what I am.”
ME: “I don’t deserve that…but I’ll take it!” (I still feel like I need to disagree more here…what do you mean you will be faithful even if I’m not? That’s not right…you can’t ALWAYS love me no matter what! Are you kidding me?)

But He is faithful. He does love His children, no matter what. There is nowhere you can go that can’t escape His love.

I don’t know about you…but that’s a pep-talk I could get everyday. It’s reality right in the face. Give it to me straight and don’t hold anything back.

He never does hold anything back from those who love Him.

I really enjoyed this reading today…hope you enjoyed it too! Have a great day friends!